My giving page is not here to push anyone towards contributing to the organizations listed below that I am involved in—although they are all great causes and do amazing work. Rather, this is a friendly reminder that clicking a donate now link, or becoming more personally involved by volunteering our time, can positively impact the lives of so many people in need while simultaneously uplifting our own lives through simple acts of kindness.
There’s a basic writer’s mantra that says “write what you know.” In other words, tell stories about what you’ve experienced firsthand. I believe this same rule applies to giving and here are a few examples.
14th Street Y and the Boys Club of NY: On New York’s Lower East Side, the 14th Street Y and the Boys Club kept me off the streets, got me involved in sports, and steered me away from the pitfalls that tripped up so many of my friends. Today, there is no greater feeling than being able to contribute my time and money to these two organizations that have literally changed the course of my life.
Veterans: During the late 60’s and early 70’s my neighborhood was flooded with combat veterans rotating back from Vietnam. This was a decade before PTSD was even defined, but we could all see the devastating physical, mental, and emotional impact the war had on these young men. There were no benefits, jail became their treatment center, and I grew up seeing homeless, drug addicted veterans all over the Lower East Side. The real tragedy is that 40 years later our service men and women are still fighting for their benefits and 22 veterans commit suicide every day! There are many organizations out there that do amazing work for our active duty personnel and those who have served, but I am involved and contribute to the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), the Wounded Warrior Project, and Operation Homefront.
And remember, giving is contagious! Three years ago the Y needed a new gym floor, we put out a call to action, and the entire neighborhood rallied and raised the funds in a few months. We also started sending care packages to troops serving in FOB’s (Forward Operating Bases) in Afghanistan and once again the community was galvanized. Several stores donated water, protein bars, gum, and candy, and many people who had never met before became permanently connected by packing and wrapping the boxes.
So, my message is help others, and give often. Committing simple acts of kindness will make you feel really good.