Most people want to help. The problem, of course, is time and resources. It seems today there are more causes to support than ever, and while many are worthy and are often championed by a friend, there are so many seeking funds and volunteers that any one person or family can only help so many others.
Working ten years in non-profit management along with many more as a volunteer has taught me a few things about intentions and helping. The single most important one is to help in the way you best can. This is not easy, because it requires you to have a clear, honest understanding of your capacity.
I’m now contracted as Business Manager for the new Nazareth Center for the Arts. As a new entity, they aren’t in a financial position to have a full-time person, and may never be, so we structured it as a quarter time (10 hour per week) position. This really means they’ll get at least 10 hours a week from me and probably more when I can give it.
Though not officially a non-profit, NewsOverCoffee.com is a not for profit activity that I manage for the benefit of the community to share information with one another. Managing this takes time each day, but it is a way I can help a lot of individuals, groups, and organizations, so it fits with what I want to do with my life.
In addition to some other projects I’m working on, I also have a family. Inevitably through the kids we are bombarded with requests to help, be it through a cause being supported in school, the school itself, PTA activities, or youth activities. There is also the church, where they find many good causes to support and there are always people in need of our prayers and support.
My situation is not unlike everyone else’s, there are a lot of demands on time and dollars for everyone.
So, help in the way you best can. A good recent example took place this past Saturday.
A friend of mine started a Facebook based non-profit charity, The Hailey Mayz Foundation. Hailey’s father, Sean, is from the Lehigh Valley, where I continue to live. We were at a conference in San Francisco, he was a panelist and I was working for the non-profit hosting the event. In talking he knew my father and wrestled at the same time as my brother. We stayed in touch by email and Facebook.
This past year his daughter Hailey passed away, and he and his wife set up a Foundation in her honor. Now they raise money and award Hailey’s Halos to families whose own children are facing a health challenge. They give grants to help with food, travel, and over the holidays bought Christmas presents and took them to the hospital.
This really struck a chord with me and my wife as our own daughter was born with a cleft lip and palate. We were in our twenties, had been married less than a year, we’re just starting out in life together, had little ‘extra’ money, and our daughter’s cleft was significant enough that our local doctor recommended a friend of his at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Three months after she was born we drove the hour and a half to the hospital, got a room the night before, since they did infant surgeries first, and stayed again the following night before she was released.
We both remember so clearly how emotionally tough it was and how we also had to be concerned with the money being spent. At the same time, we remember being in the waiting area and hearing how severe some of the other children’s conditions being treated were. I’ll never forget the doctor informing the parents next to us that they’d found a hole the size of a quarter in their child’s heart.
Hailey’s Halos sounded like a great idea to us and I wanted to help. The first Halos given out were to a family at Lehigh Valley Hospital. It was around the holidays and I thought that would make a great feature story. I reached out to some contacts I had at the newspaper, and much to my surprise there was a great, front page, feature story on the Foundation this past Saturday.
Providing recognition beyond Facebook and into the local print media was something I could help them do that could benefit them by making so many more people aware of the good work they are doing.
We all have a unique set of skills, abilities, and contacts. If you have a group or organization you want to help, consider in what way you can help them and how you can facilitate its happening. You might be surprised how easy it can be to lend a hand.