Give a Little Bit

One of my favorite blogs is Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog. She recently posted two ideas to advance your cause for free. She shared two ideas, but I couldn’t get past the first one and wanted to bring it to you here. (Consider the video you’re about to watch was created via crowd-sourcing and is available free to use for your cause customized with your logo and everything. Amazing, right?)

This quick video really struck me. It also reminded me of the mission of this blog. To inspire service through information and personal experiences. We want (y)our passion to be contagious. We ALL have an opportunity to give. To give a little bit of ourselves to something greater. Will you?

Party for Potential with Junior League

Guest post by Michele Platte

It’s that time of year again! The Junior League of Fort Wayne’s Annual Special Event is quickly approaching, and it is sure to be another fantastic evening filled with delicious food, great conversation, exciting auctions, and incredible live music.

 

The “Party for Potential” will take place Friday, March 9th at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Downtown Fort Wayne. The night will kickoff at 7:00PM with cocktails, heavy hors d’oeurves, and silent auctions in the auditorium.

At 8:00PM, auctioneer Jerry Ehle, will start the bidding at the live auction, and afterward, Chris Worth and Company (formerly Chris & Paul) will rock the night away. And did we mention that you can take a chance at the 50/50 raffle to win cash?

This event is open to the public, and we encourage all to join us as we celebrate the success of the Junior League of Fort Wayne and raise funds to further develop the potential of women and children in our community.

Tickets for this event are $50 per person and can be purchased on the Junior League website at www.jlfw.org, or by contacting the Junior League of Fort Wayne office at (260) 425-3447.

About Junior League of Fort Wayne, Inc.

Mission: An organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

Vision: The leading force in building a better future for women and children.

Reaching Out: Junior Leagues reach out to women of all races, religions, and national origins who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to voluntarism.

Generosity Experiment

What would you do if a man approached you on the street asking for donations so he could buy food, sandwiches, deodorant, even hand sanitizer to give for free to homeless people?  He told you he lived on the street two decades ago, and now does this part time to give back, in addition to a part time job he holds. Would you believe him? Would you give him a donation?

Well, read Sasha Dichter’s thoughts in response to that very same situation over on his WordPress blog.

Those thoughts lead him to complete a Generosity Experiment. I encourage you to take a moment and watch this TED video on his idea.

That original blog post was written in 2009. Just last week, Sasha updated his thoughts on the generosity economy. The thesis of the current post is this:

Increased transparency (e.g. living in a Facebook world) + frictionless idea-sharing (e.g. living in a blogging, YouTube, TED world) = We are living in a generosity economy

If the concept sounds familiar, read my book review of Tim Sanders’ “Today We Are Rich” and also check out a favorite of both Amber and I, “Love is the Killer App”.

I couldn’t agree with Sasha (and Tim Sanders) more. What about you?

Example of Contagious Living

I don’t know this family from Bluffton and I hadn’t heard their story until reading this article. But I do know they are living a contagious life. Despite many trials, they are still choosing to give. When shown generosity, they’re returning it by giving to others. I was inspired by this story and I hope it speaks to you as well. Remember, by giving, we are rich.

Shared from the Bluffton News-Banner

August 16, 2011

On behalf of a very grateful family

By Justin Peeper

This month marks an anniversary of sorts for me at The News-Banner, as it was five years ago that editor Mark Miller gave me the opportunity to write a weekly column. In the 13 years I’ve been working at the paper, mostly in part-time roles, covering the news and writing a weekly commentary have been the highlights.

While each week’s column is different, the hope here is that one theme has emerged in this space since August 2006: I love this community and cannot imagine living in a more caring place.

I know of no other community that unites more than we do to help others when a family is going through tough times. I’ve traveled as far north as Fairbanks, Alaska, to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, Argentina, and have yet to discover such a supportive place that is home to so many generous people.

My family has been on the receiving end of this support twice in the last six years, most recently over the summer. I’m writing this column today on behalf of my family, especially my cousin and his wife, Zach and Meghann Powers of Ossian.

Zach and Meghann’s 3-month-old son Xander E. Powers passed away July 29 after battling the neo-muscular genetic disorder spinal muscular atrophy, which causes a person’s motor neurons to die. It has no cure.

Xander was their first child and his life started like any normal newborn, but at his one-month checkup his doctor noticed that he wasn’t moving his arms and legs like babies his age. Another visit to a neurologist revealed that Xander had Type 1 of spinal muscular atrophy. Just looking at him, however, you never would have known there was anything wrong with him. His smile was contagious, and his blond hair, blue eyes and facial features made him a spitting image of his dad.

The weeks that followed were some of the most difficult times Zach, Meghann and our family have ever faced. Xander was in and out of the hospital and Zach and Meghann had to make decisions no parents should ever have to think about.

Xander fought hard but passed away on a Friday morning at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.

The support our family received throughout Xander’s illness was not only overwhelming but humbling. Our friends, neighbors, community members, businesses and even complete strangers wrapped their arms around Zach and Meghann to spiritually and financially support them each step of the way.

Let me give you a little idea of what our community did to help.

Fox Contractors, where Zach works, organized a golf outing at Green Valley Golf Club in Bluffton, as well as a cookout and bake sale. Countless sponsors from not only Indiana but across the nation supported the event. Sign City of Bluffton donated 50 percent of the proceeds from the Pray for Xander Powers signs back to the family. A portion of the proceeds from Bluffton’s Napa Open golf outing also went to the family. Thoma/Rich, Chaney and Lemler Funeral Home donated their services, and Bluffton restaurant TW Fable also helped by donating proceeds to the family. A myriad of other businesses put Pray for Xander on their signs. Meghann’s colleagues from Northern Wells also prepared meals and delivered them to their house and the funeral home.

Many of our family’s friends also sponsored cornhole tournaments, garage sales, bake sales, lemonade stands and even sweet corn sales to raise money.

We can’t forget to mention the health care providers. Family friend Todd Reimschisel spoke with Ossian EMS and first responders to let them know about Xander’s condition. Ossian rescue crews had to rush Xander to the hospital twice, and they were always so quick to respond and so professional. They even came to the funeral home during calling hours, which speaks volumes about our county’s emergency crews. We can’t say enough about the staff at Lutheran Hospital, as every health care worker went out of their way to help.

Stacks of cards arrived at Zach and Megann’s house, and Xander’s Facebook fan page had 1,290 likes. Friends and strangers left hundreds uplifting messages.

Our family experienced the same type of support just six years ago after Zach’s 15-year-old brother Evan suffered a head injury after falling from a workshop he and my grandfather were building. Evan was airlifted to Parkview Hospital, where he underwent two brain operations, but he never awoke from his trauma-induced coma and died four days later.

During those four days, however, countless friends and strangers from Wells County united to support and uplift Evan’s mom Sheryl and his two siblings. The hospital’s chapel could not even hold all of the students from Norwell High School who traveled up by the bus load to support Evan’s mother and our family, many camping out at the hospital.

From fund-raising events to benefit concerts to prayer after prayer and more, Wells County uplifted our family as we struggled through the most difficult experience any of us had ever faced.

We’ll never be able to pay back all of this support, but we will try our hardest to pay it forward. The golf outing will even become an annual event to raise money for the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Association and Kate’s Kart, an organization that gives free books to hospitalized children. Zach and Meghann are planning to make a donation to both organizations in Xander’s name with any remaining contributions from the past three months.

As you can see, the outcry of support was humbling. But more amazing is how normal it is for this community to join forces to help those going through tough times. I’ve lived here all of my life — the better part of 30 years — and can’t even begin to count how often I’ve seen Wells County residents, businesses, schools and churches step up to support anyone who needs it, whether it be here or half-way across the world.

Just last week, for example, Wells County raised some $20,000 at the first-ever Steve Kelly Cancer Relief Foundation fundraiser to donate back to Wells County families affected by cancer.

We are truly blessed to live in such a caring community, and my family and I are humbled again at the support we received. There is no place like Wells County.

by JUSTIN PEEPER

Your Hobby Could Serve Hundreds

I’ll admit, I’m not too familiar with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. I have several friends who are Bigs and it seems like a very valuable community organization. Recently, my husband started getting to know the organization by covering one of their fundraisers. He was more than impressed by the organization….and the need.

Hundreds of boys ages 12-17 are on the waiting list for big brothers. Hundreds.

The need is great but you can serve easily. In addition to the traditional “Big” program, BBBS offers other opportunities like the School/Lunch Buddy and Arts Buddy programs. Their newest opportunity to serve is the Sports Buddy program created as a way to recruit male volunteers so you can have a specific focus your time together with your “little brother.. They are looking for 50 volunteers.

50. Are you one of fifty? Could you be a Sports Buddy?

While our blog is not setting records for site visits on the web, our average site visits could more than meet the need of these 50 volunteers. If you visit this site, have you caught our contagiousness? Would you be willing to serve?

Take the opportunity RIGHT NOW and follow these easy steps.

1. Fill out an application on the Big Brothers, Big Sisters website
2.Complete the interview process with BB,BS
3. Meet twice a month with your “Little”.

If you have any questions contact Sports Buddy Coordinator Zac Kuhn at 888-456-1600 x 2273 or by email.

Being Contagious

When Amber and I started this blog, we were sure to write our mission statement and the About Us page. But, I’m not really sure that we’ve really explained what we mean by “contagious”. Here are a few thoughts.

Being social also means being contagious. Social Media is about relationships. If you’re using the tools well, you’re forming connections, having conversations and sharing. When someone (or better yet, many people) share information and it is an idea that is shared multiple times, it becomes contagious. How many times have you read a book because of a recommendation? How many events have you attended because someone shared the invite with you personally? How many times have you made a purchase because you knew someone who loves it as well? If you can yes to these examples, you’ve acted on contagiousness. (Is that even a real word?)

Being contagious doesn’t mean just sharing germs. I work in the healthcare field so it is difficult to use the word and not think about disease. Especially when you’re talking about using social media and “going viral”. That said, it’s the perfect example of the power of sharing something – no matter the size. You don’t have to have a huge wallet to give. You don’t have to have limitless time to serve. You don’t have to be “the” leader to impart knowledge. You have to care. You have to love your family or your friends or your neighbors or your networks or simply strangers. If you have gratitude, you can be generous. And that means doing so with whatever means you have and in every way you can think possible.

With this blog, we hope to be contagious with our personal experiences of service and giving as well as information we think you might find valuable including opportunities to serve. After all, this isn’t about us – it’s about sharing ideas and information in an effort to improve and demonstrate the value of the community we so dearly love.

As a bit of a P.S., I’d also like to note that I believe generosity sustains itself. The more you give, the more you will have to give. (Shout out to my favorite author’s newest book Today We are Rich that really talks about the value of living a generous life. My book review here.) As we’ve been working on this blog, it seems that relevant articles and resources cross my path more than I ever noticed before. I thought I’d share a quick list of recent ones in case they spark something inside you as well.

Guest Blog: Karma Yoga

Bethany Pruitt

by Bethany Pruitt

Karma, in the yoga tradition, means action and the result of action. The two are inseparable; every action is based on a past action and at the same time creates a future action. It isn’t difficult to imagine how a vicious cycle can form and karma becomes something negative, something undesirable.

Karma Yoga is the yoga of action. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali describes Karma Yoga as “selfless service without personal expectation,” or “performing actions of selfless service without attachment to the results.” The goal is to break the cycle of karma. No expectations. No reactions to actions.

Community service was an important part of my life long before I started my yoga journey. I’ve been an idealist as long as I can remember, whether that meant stopping animal abuse or ensuring access to safe drinking water. No matter the cause, the result was always of supreme importance. Imagine the shock as I began my yoga studies, only to find that this ancient tradition actually recommends abandoning such noble expectations. Nevertheless, service or Karma Yoga, is a crucial part of most yoga teacher training programs.

One of my own endeavors into Karma Yoga came in June in the form of a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters. I had completed Street Yoga’s training for teaching at-risk youth, and I was eager to put these new skills into practice. For four weeks we gathered a group of matches, big sisters with their little sisters, and practiced yoga once a week. Our objectives were building confidence, relieving stress, and cultivating a sense of self.

When we began, the little sisters as well as many of the big sisters seemed unsure how to move their bodies into the different shapes, and in many cases completely incapable of relaxing. As the weeks passed, they seemed less uneasy; the younger girls were especially eager to practice what they had learned the previous week. Although some of the girls were never able to close their eyes and lie still in savasana, or final relaxation, I think many of the girls (and certainly their big sisters) came to enjoy that time of quiet and stillness at the end of practice.

I knew we would only be together for a short period of time, but I had hoped that I would see these little sisters transform into girls and young women who are comfortable and confident in their bodies. In my initial enthusiasm, I had put together a practice that expanded the definition of yoga and included activities that I thought would help the girls manage their stress and express emotions that can be difficult to verbalize. When I didn’t immediately see the results I’d hoped for, I lost my confidence and abandoned those parts of the practice. Yoga had changed my life, and I was impatient to see that transformation in the girls I was teaching.

Looking back now, I can see clearly the potential for growth in the small changes I did witness. During a conversation I had with the Big Brothers Big Sisters director, I discovered that the very activities that had felt ineffective to me were what had impressed her most about the yoga classes. She could see transformation in the little sisters where my personal expectations had blinded me. Although we cannot know with certainty if after only four weeks of yoga any of the girls will slow down or deepen her breath the next time she finds herself in a stressful situation, we do know that the possibility exists because of the seeds we planted.

It is easy for those of us who live, work, and volunteer in the communities we love to become discouraged when we cannot see the fruits of our hard work. Detaching from the fruits of our actions doesn’t mean we cease to care, or that we abandon the integrity of our work and stop learning from our mistakes. Rather, selfless service without personal expectation means accepting that we cannot ultimately control what happens. If we are to take the advice of Patanjali, and I suggest we do, then we continue our work, our Karma Yoga, without expectations, finding peace in the knowledge that we are breaking destructive cycles and planting seeds through our selfless service.

Giving Thanks

“It is better to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35

How many of you really believe that? If you’ve ever given, served or put someone’s needs ahead of your own, I’m willing to bet you do. But, if we recognize that amazing feeling we have after giving, why don’t we give more often?

Do we need to be reminded of that feeling?

Do we need to be incentivized to be generous?

Do we need to be thanked?

Recently, my husband volunteered for a Go Day at our church. His team served at a local childcare facility that serves low-income children. He loved it. Loved the staff at the center, their mission, and serving there. He came back inspired to do more. (Dare I say his service was “contagious”?) We are always looking to inspire our children to serve when they recognize a need. (Warning: mom bragging begins now…) For example, when teaching our 4-year old that not everyone has as many toys as she does and that many children don’t even have the food they need, she simply said, “We should help them, Mom. We can.” From the mouths of babes. Of course it is that simple. So that’s what we did last Christmas by adopting a family. She participated in shopping and delivering items the family needed and a few they wanted as well.

Fast forward a few months after our Christmas family experience and church Go Day. We’re blessed with generous family members so we frequently do a purge of toys. Rather than drop the toys off in the Goodwill bin as usual, my husband has the idea to call the childcare center to see if they could benefit from them. They were excited about the idea to gift the kids with ‘new’ toys. Always looking for a teaching opportunity, he involved our 4-year old and together they selected toys to give to the children. They both went and delivered them and what a delight it was to hear how much they both enjoyed the experience.

Remember – it is better to give than to receive.

A few weeks later, the following thank you arrived in the mail.

They didn’t give to get thanked. But, doesn’t feel extra-special when you do receive a thoughtful thank you? What a nice way to remember those children and the smiles on their faces.

What motivates you to serve? Do you need to be thanked? When you have received a “thank you” what could you share as an example to inspire others to show gratefulness when they have been blessed?

How do you serve?

Below is a guest post by Jon Gordon on Michael Hyatt’s blog. As I read it, I was reminded that we don’t need to have extra resources to serve our community. You don’t need a free weekend. Though, a lot can be done in a few hours on a Saturday. You don’t need extra money in your budget. But, if you do have reserve funds, consider putting them to work for others. Serving in community simply means working with purpose. Are you looking for opportunities to serve? I promise there is an opportunity to make a difference every day. Will you seize the day?

Jon also talks about ordinary people with an extra-ordinary purpose. I have the privilege of working on the Murosity Project at work. This mural celebrates the generosity of 160 Everyday Stars around our region and exemplifies the power of the individuals Jon describes. At Parkview, we’re hoping the visualization of generosity will inspire and comfort those who view it in the waiting room of the Emergency Department at the new Parkview Regional Medical Center. Imagine being shown 160 examples of Everyday Stars who are living with a bigger purpose at a time when you need to be inspired to hope the most. These Everyday Stars don’t serve to receive recognition. But, each of us recognizes these individuals in our lives. Will you be someone’s Everyday Star today?

Working for a Bigger Purpose

What if work wasn’t just work? What if work was a vehicle to live and share a bigger purpose?

A Man Standing on a Pinnacle - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/vernonwiley, Image #7112779

I believe there’s a flawed perception in our society that in order to live a life of purpose we have to leave our jobs and go solve world hunger, feed the homeless, move to Africa, or start a charity.

While these are all noble, needed causes with many who are called to do these very things for others, for some of us our bigger purpose can be found in the here and now, in the jobs we have, right under our noses. And when we find and live this purpose, it will provide the ultimate fuel for a meaningful life.

You may not build libraries around the world, but you can find the bigger purpose in reading to your children. You may not feed the homeless every day, but you can nourish your employees and customers with a smile, kind word, and care. And while you may not start your own non-profit organization, you can begin a charity initiative at work. After all, “charity” means “love in action.”

You can make a difference every day and touch the lives of everyone you meet. While these people may not be starving because of a lack of food, you can provide them with a different kind of nourishment that will feed their souls (and feed your own in the process).

Here are a few examples:

  • I heard of a janitor who worked at NASA. And even though he was sweeping floors, he felt his bigger purpose was contributing to put a man on the moon.
  • I met a bus driver who knows his purpose is to help kids stay off drugs.
  • I met an administrative assistant who has become the Chief Energy Officer of her company.
  • I received an email from a man in the mortgage business who sees his job as a way to help couples save their marriages by keeping their homes.
  • I know a Popeye’s Chicken employee named Edith in the Atlanta Airport who makes thousands of air travelers smile each day.

The list goes on … ordinary people with an extra-ordinary purpose.

In any job our purpose waits for us to find it and live it.

I can’t tell you what your purpose should be, but I can tell you that every one of us can find a bigger purpose in the job we have.

I can tell you that every job, no matter how glorious or boring it may seem, will get mundane if we let it.
Purpose keeps it fresh. And when we are filled with purpose, we tap into an endless supply of energy.

Don’t wait until you go to Africa to start living with a mission. Don’t wait until the weekend to feed people who are hungry. Bring your mission to work, start working for a bigger purpose and nourish others in the process.