Last week was #GivingTuesday, “a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.” Now that the hustle and bustle of holidays, travel, and shopping has died down, we thought we’d take an opportunity to reflect on what really matters.
At HWC, giving back is at the core of who we are. Many of our team members view their work as a form of service. Others give of their time, skills, and funds to make the world a better place. My fiance and I met at Emory University, so we donate to scholarship funds to give more people the opportunity to get an excellent education (and maybe even meet their soulmate). I’m far from the only HWCer giving back. Below we hear from some of my philanthropic coworkers who are making a difference.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I am part of a wonderful group of dedicated athletes who raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As a St. Jude’s Hero, I run for kids who might be too sick to run today, but who could one day because the money I raise helped find a cure for childhood cancers. I also volunteer with the Ulman Cancer Foundation’s Cancer to 5K program. CT5K is a free, 12-week training program and support group for those undergoing cancer treatment or recent cancer survivors. It’s an amazing experience to run with cancer survivors as they cross the finish line after weeks of hard work!
I serve as a DC City Coordinator for Team Rubicon (TR). TR is a veteran-led disaster relief organization that helps transition veterans back to civilian life while utilizing their skills on the ground in areas affected by natural disasters across the globe. TR volunteers, comprised not only of veterans but also of first responders, doctors, technologists, and civilians with a passion for service, help clear debris, rebuild houses, distribute food, and perform a wide range of other services. While I am not a veteran, I am able to utilize my emergency management and project management experience to help those affected by disasters. In DC, we arrange numerous community service days to help beautify and prepare our city.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation
The Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation (“AKA EAF”) is one of the many organizations that I have chosen to donate my money and time to, and it inspires me daily to make a lasting difference in the world. This organization is important to me because I truly believe that we can never learn enough. It promotes lifelong learning by not only funding individuals and organizations engaged in lifelong learning, but also by offering Fellowship and Community Assistance Awards to assist organizations with volunteer programs that provide civic, educational, and human service benefits.
Humane Rescue Alliance
Almost every Saturday morning I spend a few hours at either the US National Arboretum or Rock Creek Park with a dog from the Humane Rescue Alliance, an animal welfare organization here in the Nation’s capital. I, and several other dedicated volunteers, take a dog from the shelter to get exercise, get out in nature, and get better socialized around people and other animals, all of which ultimately make them more adoptable. I make the time for this because I feel it is important to help those that are in need, whether they are people or animals, and because it helps me feel like I’m making a positive difference (and because I can’t have a dog where I live).
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
I have volunteered with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (taps.org) since May of 2001. Briefly, TAPS provides support to military families that are grieving the loss of their service member. Specifically, I help facilitate grief counseling groups with kids in our program.
I first got involved with TAPS because I was told to, but continued volunteering because I believe in the healing power of bringing together people who are going through a similar loss. Many times, the kids in the program are the only ones in their class—and sometimes their entire school—that have lost a member of their immediate family (most often, their father). This can make them feel alienated from their classmates, which keeps them from talking about their loss. Bringing them to a TAPS camp and putting them in a group of 20 other kids that are going through a similar grieving process can be a powerful tool in allowing them to express their feelings and emotions relating to the death of a loved one. It is very rewarding to see these kids, many of whom come to camps every year, mature and move towards adulthood. It’s an honor to walk with them for part of that journey.
Interested in making a difference and participating in #GivingTuesday? Get a head start for next year: individuals can get involved and organizations can join the movement. It’s never too late to make the world a better place.