Field Trip Hype

Happy Monday,

One last thing that I forgot to mention in my previous blog post was all the hype brewing for next week’s upcoming field trip. It is encouraged that everyone attends because this is what you all have been working for this past 10 weeks — to put a smile on the face of many in need… Nontheless, ask your parents if they are up to volunteer chaperoning for this voyage that will partake next Tuesday, the 16th of December. To be honest, I have never stood up and made a difference like this on my own without the help/guidance of a program I signed up for. For the first time, I have made a change and decision for the better and truly no one instructed me nor forced me to do so!! Without a doubt this is something new I have learned about myself that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Anyway, get a good nights rest and see everyone tomorrow after school, 4:15!!

-Brett Mandel

Week 8 Panel Classes ~ Success!!

Good evening and happy Monday to ya’ll—>

Just wanted to enlighten your minds about the extravagance that happened in our panel class last week. Not only was our MSP group fortunate enough to hear about two more generous and potential charities, but also we were able to share a connection with these charities that some students, let alone many human beings have failed to acquire. And that is the idea of kind-giving, allegiance, and morality… A big round of a applause to everyone who could make this happen! With this in mind, our squad of benevolent givers/world improvers struck gold on friday’s morning bakesale, when we raised well over our goal to raise! Once again to everyone that donated, you rock for that!

See everyone tomorrow and get a good night’s rest!!

-Brett

Interview and Panel Class Relfection

Week 7’s panel class was a little bit more interesting than the one that was held week 6. This is because the two charities were vastly different, not only in purpose and there mission, but in there financial situations as well. It was very noticeable how while Emmanuel Cancer had a much more organized structure and more organization financially, Bridge of Books had a much different, less organized plan as well as a lower budget. While studying finances in the prior weeks of the course I distinctly remember a discussion on how charities that are less established may not have such a definite financial plan. This definitely was evident to be true considering the fact that Emmanuel Cancer has been around for a much longer time compared to Bridge of Books. For my interview I decided to interview the most important woman in my life, my mother. In her interview with me she discussed how she grew up in a much worse financial situation than she and I are living in now, where money was somewhat tight. My mother also detailed with me how she now gives to many charities that she has a personal connection with. For example she donates money to charities that help to battle MS because she had a childhood friend who unfortunately had her life taken by the disease. What I found more interesting though was her reasoning for giving. It was not to make herself feel good, nor is it out of pity. My mother gives to organizations because she wants to put all people on an “even playing field” in her words, making sure that everybody has the same opportunities. This belief has prompted her giving to the New Jersey Food Bank, as well as her volunteering and donating to Bridges (not related at all to Bridge of Books). I believe that all people should give due to this principle. While I agree it is a small issue because no matter why you give the donation goes to a good cause, it is a good test of character to actually analyze honestly why we give and if we do it for any personal gain of our own.

Journal 5: Learning From Others

This weeks class was an eye opening experience. We had a panel that two charity organization representatives attended. One was a director at the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation and the other the President of Bridge of Books Foundation. These were both two inspiring women. Hearing them speak about their involvement in the foundations, what passions they had and their future goals was moving. The women who runs Bridge of Books has given up all of her time to run this foundation completely on volunteer service. It is amazing how dedicated she is to her cause and how much of herself she puts into her foundation; it has become an integral part of her life. As someone quite interested in non-profit management as a career this is quite motivational. I have always been told that making this great passion for service of mine into my whole life would not be a safe idea. Luckily meeting people like the representative from Emmanuel Cancer Foundation gives me hope. I spoke with her and she gave me her phone number for future advice on my possible career path. I am excited to utilize her wisdom! This weekend my group also participated in our fundraiser. Erin and I walked door to door in the cold for a few hours spreading awareness about the MSP course, The Crossroads Program and the Change Bakers Mission (as well as gave out some peppermint candy canes!). Surprisingly people were happy to donate and we reached our goal of $250 within one day! Going door to door is hard work but also a rewarding experience as you get to meet lots of new people and learn about their perspectives on your cause. Whenever I see people waiting outside stores collecting money I like to donate some change to their cause as I understand their position after being in that situation many times these past four years. Lastly I interviewed my mother regarding her opinions on charity organizations and life. I learned about her childhood in India and the transition to America she made at the young age of 25. She parted wisdom about saving money, retaining culture and community, thinking beyond myself and finding happiness in my bliss. I can see the pattern we learned about in the first class about how our life experiences affect what worldly causes we become concerned about most. It was a rewarding experience learning about my mother in that perspective.

Reflection of Interview and Last Panel Class

I interviewed my mom for the questions we had to ask because I know that she has done work with several charities and I could probably learn from her answers. One thing that my mom said that surprised me during the interview was the experience that changed her life that she shared with me. Since she is a social worker, she has worked with many special needs kids varying from very young ages to elderly. She told me about this teenager she worked with named Matt and how his experience (which she didn’t want me to publish on the blog) had completely changed her perspective on life and what is truly important. From this conversation, I learned that I should be deliberate with my money in the sense that I should keep track of how much I have, where I want to spend it, and how much I should save. I plan on keeping this in mind when donating to a charity in the near future. This past week, two women came in, one from the Bridge of Books Foundation and the other who is on the board from the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation. These women had very persuasive arguments of why we should be donating to them, and I could definitely see us putting in some money to both organizations because both work to help children. Since this was the last panel class, I have come to the conclusion that we will most likely not be donating to one foundation because there are so many terrific ones out there. Lastly, my group has completed our fundraising and we had a complete success!!! Deanne and I walked around her neighborhood for two hours selling candy canes for a dollar each and by the end we managed to raise $126.50, which I find to be very exciting. We have spoken with Ilina and Erin who also did a fantastic job by raising a little more than $250! Altogether we have raised more than $100 over our goal, which was $250! I am very pleased with the outcome of our fundraising experience and I look forward to giving money to a variety of charities.

Our First Panel Class

At our first panel class, we had two representatives come in. One from The Valarie Fund and the other from the Mental Health Association. Unfortunately, Crossroads (the foundation we arranged to come) had to cancel last minute and a representative did not attend. Yet, I was very reassured by the end of the class because I was very impressed by both of the organizations that were there and would be glad to donate to either one of the. I could definitely see our group donating a portion of our money to the Valarie Fund, yet I am not sure about the Mental Health Association. The only reason for this is that they do not specifically help children and I think that we are very set on putting our donations toward a cause that will guarantee support to disadvantaged children. In terms of our fundraising, we have not started anything yet, but we have a plan. Next week we will all go out and sell candy canes by going house to house in several neighborhoods. I am very excited about doing this and I hope that it is a success!

Main Street Philanthropy Week 7

This week I interviewed a family member. It is not really something that I do, or even like to do because it is just awkward. But I did this week, and I interviewed my mother. I chose to interview her because I knew little about how she came to America and her story. She told me about her life when she was a little girl growing up in Taiwan, about how everything was militaristic, from the way they dressed to the length of their hair: up to the earlobes for girls, and military cut for boys. Discipline was very strict, and misbehavior or one bad grade led to physical punishment. A bamboo stick would be use to hit one’s hand or knuckles, causing much pain as it struck bone. For a more humiliating punishment, a student might be forced to do frog jumps in the front of the classroom, while the rest of the class looked on, until the teacher gave permission to stop. Squats were the worst punishment, as one had to squat while keeping his hands out, which were sometimes weighted with textbooks. Unlike America, teachers in Taiwan did not encourage children to speak their minds or challenge what is being taught.

When my mother immigrated to America on the last day of 1984, she came with her parents who wanted to give her the best opportunity and the best education they could. My uncles, her brother, had already come for education to stay with their uncle. And her grandfather wanted her father to come so he brought my mother  with her. My mother told me from that experience to “study English before you come to America”. She felt like a mute, like she could not connect with anybody here. She could not express her ideas and felt she had lost her voice coming to this country. It was difficult because her command of the English language was weak, but immersing herself in the big, cultural, melting pot of America quickly taught her the language. Growing up her family’s financial situation was tight. They were a one-income family, and that one person, her father, had served in the Taiwan Air Force, which is equivalent to America’s Air Force I. He was a part of the maintenance team that maintained the president’s airplane. The salary in the military was very low, and the government helped them cover tuition fees as well as supplies like rice, oil, salt, and flour, but times still were hard. They did not go out to eat or see movies like I do with my family sometimes. This has made me put more value in every movie we go out to see or every restaurant we go out to eat in.

My mother told me to always save money for a rainy day and think twice before spending it. She never really bought with abandon the latest technology for us like many families I know do. And she taught me that when saving money in the bank, the interest you make will also make interest, which is called compounding. These lessons have been a part of my life growing up, and I always hesitate to spend money, thinking first if this is really what I need. She has supported the American Heart Association, the Avon Breast Cancer Walk, Autism Speaks, and our local public library. She believes that it is important for young people to learn to give back to society because they are the future and teaching the next generation who will in turn teach the next generation will ensure that our world will never be at a loss for giving people who think not only of themselves but others as well.

From her I learned that giving to others can provide a unique happiness that cannot be attained any way else. My mother told me to be happy with what you have, to be grateful for it and not wish for things you cannot have. I then asked her, “If you could fix one serious problem in the world today, what would that be?” She told me that the stability of society is something she considers a serious problem. There are conflicts between races, and although sometimes it seems as if there is not, racism is always there at the back of people’s minds through subtle behaviors. Through this, hatred is born, and in a world full of hated, there is little room for giving. But we can make room for it. We have to or else we would be surrendering to that hate, and numerous examples in history show that we, as humans, never surrender to hate.

Week 6 Blog – First Panel Class

This week we had our first panel class. Although the representative that we called from the Crossroads Program did not come this week, it was interesting to hear about the other two charities. Despite the fact that we did not call them personally, I think my group might be interested in donating some of our grant dollars to one of these two charities. Both of the organizations were serving different purposes, one was for disabled people and one for child patients of terminal illnesses such as sickle cell disease, however after learning more about the charities we found that many of the experiences they went through were similar in that they had similar fundraisers and struggles in the organization. From what I saw, the Valerie fund was meant to give child patients and families full treatment for their terminal illnesses including therapy and outside treatments other than the basic treatment. Many times children and families are left devastated because there is no full treatment and therapy to deal with having a terminal illness and all they receive is the medication and regular check-ups. The Mental Health Association was more working with adults with mental health illnesses. I think their goal included more awareness to show people that mental health illnesses are not things to be afraid of and are very common. Mental health illnesses can include eating disorders, ADHD, and more. I did not realize the amount of people suffering from mental health illnesses. I am looking forward to the next panel class and meeting our representative that we called.

Week 5 Blog

This week in Main Street Philanthropy we went over the quantitative ratings for our charity, the Crossroads Program. We found that they had a total score of 11 out of 15 based on their program ratio, management ratio, fundraising ratio, cost to raise $1, and sustainability. Compared to some of the other charities researched by other groups, Crossroads had the highest overall score. Based on this, our group decided that we would like to ask the Crossroads representative on their sustainability and how their charity funds will look five years down the road because they scored a 1 out of 3 in sustainability, their lowest score. We also considered other questions to ask the representatives such as what percentage of their board is giving personally? Their answer would allow us to determine how dedicated their board is to the charity. Also, we thought of asking the representatives about their planned giving programs. Our group has decided to raise money for our charity by going around our neighborhoods asking for change and selling baked goods. We also are sending out flyers in some neighborhoods to collect loose change. Hopefully we can raise the target $250. I am looking forward to meeting the representatives of all the charities coming next week and getting to learn more about the programs first-hand.

Recent Thoughts

With everything that’s going on in the media, the protests, politics and opinions flying around, it really got me thinking. It got me thinking how all of this started because people had an idea, a goal, and a desire to see it through. Sometimes I think that we can’t make a difference, we’re just kids, or just one individual isn’t enough. But that’s totally not true. Everyone starts from somewhere, and the most famous person in the world didn’t get where he was today by not believe in what he could do. Whats happening now, and whats happened in the past proves that anyone can bring about change if they want it bad enough and if they have a team or a group of people who are willing to stick around and help make that happen. That is what charities around the world are accomplishing also. I bet that some pessimistic soul came around and told a charity that they weren’t going to make a difference, that it was never going to work. But thoughts like those cant bring you down, or else they were right. You have to believe in yourself, and the power that you have and only then will you really bring about change.