I've never before linked to Kelly's Korner Show Us Your Life, but Friday's topic was one that's very near and dear to me -- favorite charities. I was gone over the weekend so this is late, but nevertheless a very good topic to discuss. As a self-proclaimed nonprofit guru, this topic is one that I am quite passionate about; therefore I'll probably add more info than just list my fave charities. This is a very personal matter to me and it is close to my heart, however I decided that I would share since I am sometimes a source to others for nonprofit guidance and conversation. I focused both my Bachelors and Masters studies on nonprofits, therefore I have quite a few ideas on charitable organizations and charitable giving. While my career as nonprofit professional is bittersweet, I do have a sincere interest and love for organizations and causes that do good work. In fact, I have chosen one of my 2010 life verses as Galatians 6:9 -- "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
First and foremost, Mr. P and I firmly believe in giving first to our local church as we are instructed in Malachi 3:10 -- "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse....." While I do not believe that a tithe is required for salvation, it is absolutely necessary as an act of obedience to God. I am thankful that Daddy taught me this since I was a young child. I was full of lots of questions and thankfully I have many memories where he and Mom thoroughly explained and modeled this behavior so that I would grow up to own it for myself.
We also support Compassion International where we sponsor Arvin, a teenage boy who resides across the world in the Phillippines. The funds are used to help Arvin in whatever ways are needed -- whether it be food, clothing, supplies, or educational activities, and most importantly our contribution allows him and other children to hear the word of God and learn about Jesus.
Christian Family Radio is a local radio station here in BG that I listen to regularly and depend on to keep me on track in my Christian faith. We show our appreciation by giving donations every once in a while. I rely on this radio station for encouragement, to hear praise and worship songs, for the daily scripture, and to keep my perspective on track. For those in the BG area, you can tune in at 90.7. CFR airs a morning broadcast of Focus on the Family that will often be on during my morning commute. The topics are varied but they have strengthened me as a Christian and are a great way to start the day. Sometimes I will further research the broadcast topics and it is a great challenge to me, therefore we periodically offer support.
Mr. P is an alumni of Western Kentucky University and we are season ticket holders for men's basketball. (This year has been less than desirable, but on a positive note -- there's always room for improvement!) We support the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation and its efforts to provide scholarships to student-athletes at WKU.
In college I volunteered at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Lexington (KY) and absolutely loved it! This experience led me to choose a career in the nonprofit industry. SHC is an amazing organization with a wonderful mission. They treat young patients (0-18 years) who have orthopedic problems, all at no cost to the patient. In addition to the orthopedic hospitals, there are also a few burn hospitals to treat children with burn injuries (which are often very serious and so sad). What a great organization doing great things for these kids and their families!
We are each thankful to have had the opportunity to receive a college education and in the future when finances allow, we will help others to get a good education. Once this time comes (hopefully soon) we plan to give to our own programs, the WKU Department of Engineering (Mr. P's) and UK College of Agriculture (my "home!").
I actually have quite a few other organizations that are worth mentioning, however I will not go into that for this post. It's probably obvious that I do not take this topic lightly. However, I have to be careful that my nonprofit career does not get in the way of me being a "cheerful giver" since I am very picky when it comes to the organizations I choose to support. Like many others, I want to know that my contributions are being used wisely and centered around the mission of the organization. Unfortunately some organizations and those claiming to support particular organizations are not reputable, so I am very cautious of that. There are some ways to double-check a nonprofit, such as sites like Guidestar. My best suggestion is to know the organization and what it does and how it makes a difference.....it's important for it to be a mission you believe in and are passionate for. One thing that I should point out is that I do not question about giving to the local church whatsoever. That is not only because I have trust in my church of choice, but also because I know that everything I have is God's and I'm merely the steward. Therefore, I try to be a good one!
Believe it or not, I have only scratched the surface on this topic because I have loved it, lived it, and studied it for several years now and I have so much more to say! However, I will spare you more details and instead I will welcome you to ask my thoughts about the nonprofit industry or we can chat about it if you're interested. I know, I know......not everyone cares about this just like there are many topics that I do not prefer!
"I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
UPDATE: I got so into my post last night, I failed to mention the nonprofit I work for -- American Red Cross of South Central Kentucky. I was not very familiar with this organization prior to working here, but I fully believe in the mission of this great charity. And I can assure you that funds are used very conservatively -- we have an extremely high rate of dollars used to directly benefit those we serve. It's often hard to separate myself between a "giver" and an "employee" but every once in a while we do give support to the local chapter because I have seen the benefits provided to the community and the people we serve. It is a common misconception that the American Red Cross is a government organization, however it is not. The American Red Cross is a 501c3 organization that relies on support for our community, which makes things hard very often. Unlike many other ARC chapters and other local charities, we are not supported by organizations like United Way.
While Greek organizations often receive criticism for excessive partying and "buying your friends," there are many great components to being involved in a fraternity or sorority. I loved my days as a UK Alpha Gamma Delta girl and I became proud of our philanthropy events where we raised money for Juvenile Diabetes Research and the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation. We also supported other Greeks in their philanthropic endeavors, which encompassed many great causes. Greeks are dependable and a great resource for those of us who work in nonprofits -- they can put on one heck of a fundraiser and they are also great volunteers! I have enjoyed working with WKU's Fiji fraternity as they have raised money for our chapter through a rivalry run -- talk about some dedication! (Yet another bonus to Greek organizations as well as other youth groups....their parents will often support the cause as well!) :)
I should also mention that it's fun to get involved in fundraising events for charities. With my Leadership Bowling Green group, we completed a service project which we did for BRASS (Barren River Area Safe Space), a place for women and children to flee from domestic violence. We had a great time raising money and putting in labor to help with some much needed renovations. Our LBG group also recently "bowled for kids sake" in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Kentucky, where we raised money from sponsors. Next year we plan to participate in Community Education's Spellabration event. We have also attended the Family Enrichment Center's Funniest Kids Around show, which was one of the most entertaining evenings I've had in quite some time! There are great ways to get involved and give back, whether through time, money, ideas, participation or a combination of all. For sporadic opportunities, check local news for upcoming events. From wine tastings (the SCKY Red Cross Wine & Cheese Tasting Fundraiser will be held on June 24 at Lost River Cave!), black tie affairs, to silly competitions (the Polar Plunge just occurred last week for Junior Achievement, for instance), there are great opportunities to see how awesome your community is and how when everyone gives a little, so much can be accomplished!
Okay that's all......I will be quiet now! :)