Our partner Start Some Good put together this awesome post for our WGD blog series. Enjoy!
In preparation for World Give Day on May 4, 2012, we asked ten inspiring entrepreneurs who have run or are currently running campaigns on StartSomeGood to respond to the following statement:
Small gift, big impact: tell us about a time when you saw a small act of giving create lots of unexpected joy.
The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and we’re so glad to be able to share these truly amazing stories with all of you. Below are the experiences that Ehon, Tom, Jack, Gina, and Christina were so eager to share. Check back next week for five more inspiring stories of giving.
Back in August 2010, I gathered a group of my closest friends and we brought beanbags, camping chairs, biscuits, and some coffee and tea, set them up in the middle of a busy Square and offered “free chats” to random strangers – no judgments, no bias, no political or religious discussion, just conversations. Over the next 4 hours, almost 100 people sat down, chatted and shared their deepest worries, sorrows, joys, and happiness. From corporate executives to a homeless man, we saw humanity in action – a mutual respect for each other’s differences and a celebration of our common similarities. I often wondered what this would mean for the homeless man, or the corporate executive and how their life has changed, if they did. Often times, a conversation and an expression of genuine compassion, kindness, and empathy can change a life.
When I started The Backpack Co. I thought that this would be a cool way for everyone to help out, while getting something for themselves in return. What I did not know was the profound impact that it would have on the children receiving the backpacks, and ultimately myself. It’s funny, we always say things about how we have so much and take it for granted, but it finally dawned on me in March what that actually meant. When I showed up with the bags filled with school supplies to Quelcata, Bolivia, it was like Christmas for those children. They were so excited! This town had been stricken by poverty, and apart from the organization I went with, it had no real help from the outside world in building any infrastructure (schools, hospitals, etc). The children were so excited to receive the backpacks, and it was even a little humorous. They didn’t know how to wear the backpacks, so they wore them on their chests, as opposed to wearing them on their backs. I knew the big impact The Backpack Co. and its customers would be making in terms of giving a chance for a proper education for their future. What I did not know was the impact it made on their lives in terms of giving them hope and joy for the present.
This past February, I volunteered at a program called Level the Field, a non-profit that uses sports and teamwork to empower low-income children. I was immediately struck by how a simple game like dodgeball or basketball can transcend even the most difficult of situations. A few kids, a couple mentors and a ball is sometimes all that’s needed to bring a new level of joy to one’s life.
One year, at our annual end-of-year Youth Solutions Showcase where students present their green design innovations, we received a donated laptop to use as a prize. It wasn’t just any donation. When a goup of employees at a local company heard about our non-profit and the showcase, they decided to collect money amongst themselves to buy and donate a laptop on their behalf. Those small donations meant providing an important resource for the lucky winner. Alejandra is a first-generation Mexican-American who is pursuing her education in Austin. The 15-year old student won the competition with her prototype for a bicycle-powered generator to use after natural disasters. The look on Alejandra’s face when she won and was handed the laptop was priceless. She now has a resource to help support her education and path to college. Alejandra wants to pursue a career in sustainable designs and social entrepreneurship. It’s moments like these that truly reflect what our organization is about – inspiring a new generation of green leaders to design an environmentally sustainable future for all. Thank you to all of our supporters.
In the summer of 2009, I helped a local Austin nonprofit design and build garden beds for a community of single mothers and their children. What inspired me about this particular project was how the coordinators were so invested in engaging the community in their garden bed initiative. That piece of community empowerment was so important because it allowed the residents to become inspired and actually participate. We built four garden beds that day, planted a handful of vegetables, and ate many delicious tamales. That experience of collaboration brought everyone so much joy.