A few weeks back I mentioned that I wanted to do some blogging on organizations and causes that need our help. There’s a lot of reason to the “Why” on this…and I’m going to give a brief explanation on this first blog regarding this specific topic before I jump into the first organizations.
So…anyone who knows me well knows that my biggest passion is Missing Kids. Because of my own history, this is a cause that is near and dear to my heart and always will be. It is where the majority of my volunteer effort and charitable contributions will always go. Notice that bold part.
BECAUSE OF MY OWN HISTORY.
But that’s the thing. We all have our own history. We all have our own passions that came about because of experiences in our lives. Whether you and your family were personally affected by domestic violence, cancer, diabetes, sexual assault (or any other of a myriad of issues that face our world today)…something left a mark on you and ignited your passion to make a difference.
That passion is something you fight for. That passion is something you volunteer to help with. That passion is something you will give for every time you know your help is needed and you have the ability.
That passion is a central piece of who you are.
And, thus, that passion is a central piece that you wish people understood about you.
With this knowledge, about 8 or 9 years ago, I started a project. As I mentioned, during the year if I give…my instinct is to give for missing kids. But, once a year I get a check from my holidays savings account. I put enough into that account that I won’t miss around $200. Through the year, that money is earmarked for this project. What is this project? Actually, I’m glad to tell you…I’m a little proud of this particular bit of brilliance (if I do say so myself lol).
When that check comes…I make a post on social media. I ask my friends and loved ones to tell me about THEIR PASSIONS. What organizations or causes mean something special to them? What world issue do they wish more people knew about? What is something that is such a central piece of who they are that they will fight it whenever they have the chance?
I ask them to tell me WHY this is the cause. I ask them to tell me how this particular cause is a part of who they are.
I ask them to help me understand this major part of them. Because…I’ve said it a million times and probably annoy people with how much I say it, but…being understood is one of our most basic needs and desires.
So, once a year my friends give me this list. From those that I haven’t donated to in the last year, I put them all in a hat and I choose about ten organizations to get about $20 each. It’s not much. I know it’s not much. But every little bit helps an organization…and every little bit of knowledge that people now have about this organization helps them tenfold.
And…most importantly to me…for a few minutes…my loved ones feel heard…feel understood…and feel supported.
My only request from them during this project is that they read other people’s responses and they consider doing this project themselves if they’re ever able.
SO…this year, I’ve already done my donations because I really didn’t need some of that stimulus money…and I decided that I was also going to turn this into a blog series. I want to highlight the charities that mean something to those around me.
But I’m going to be selfish first. Because, as I was scrolling social media today, I came across an organization that I didn’t know about. An organization that supports another cause that is EXTREMELY near and dear to my heart.
The foster system.
Foster parents get a pretty bad name. Unfortunately, that’s because some people go into it for the wrong reason. But…for a few days of my life…what should have been the WORST few days of my life…my brother and I entered that system. We entered it…and our foster parents were the most amazing human beings I think I have ever come into contact with.
Again…what should have been the worst days of my life, are some of the fondest memories of my life. We went to them in the middle of the night…scared…confused…afraid to go to sleep…terrified of what the future was going to bring. But the next day, we were faced with this…not foster family, but…FAMILY. They had one child of their own…2 other foster kids…and a foster baby that they were working to adopt. And they still took us in in the middle of the night. They made those days the most normal I experienced in my entire childhood. We played video games (I vividly remember that Track & Field pad that I had always wanted to try so badly!). We baked. We watched movies. We laughed. We were kids…in a time when our childhoods were being ripped away…we just got to be kids.
Because of that couple, I have always sworn that I would give back. I’m not in a place where I can be a foster parent right now, but one day that is a goal of mine. In the meantime, I volunteer as a babysitter for foster families when I can and when I’m needed. And I give in any way I can.
So, today…that scrolling…took me past “Together We Rise”. I had never heard of this, but I looked it up and they had a really high rating…but they supply foster kids with real duffel bags for carrying their belongings from place to place, rather than the garbage bag that many wind up using. My immediate thought was, “Permanence”. Permanence is something that is lacking for foster children…everything feels short term…everything feels…disposable. But that bag…that’s permanent and theirs.
So, I immediately gave this morning…and then decided that it was time to start this blog series and Foster Care was where I was going to start.
If you are so inclined, please check out ANY of these amazing organizations and remember, every little bit helps…and even just spreading the knowledge of the cause helps more than you know.