First Charity of 2019 is…

I told y’all my intention is to donate to different non-profit organizations each month with the goal of donating $1000 for the calendar year. I’ve selected my first one. The Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation.

Their primary focus is to have Houston area children reading at grade level by third grade. They’ve created an online tool that enables anyone to find literacy-related volunteer opportunities in their area. And my favorite of all, children can create a wish list of books they want and the organization will work to fulfill the wish list by working with partners and donors.

They have a high rating on both Charity Navigator and Guidestar.

Very happy to support an organization tackling literacy in my city and will use their online tool to volunteer later this year!

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A Year of Giving

At the beginning of last year I wrote on here about my goal of charitable giving for the year. It would be the first time I’d ever donated to any organization. I started by selecting a different organization each month to donate to with the intention of donating $1000 for the calendar year. I failed to reach my goal, but I’m extremely proud to have supported several organizations throughout 2018.

In total I gave $424.13 to 4 different organizations. Donorschoose.org, which is basically the Kickstarter for teachers. Houston Museum of Natural Science. Holocaust Museum Houston. Houston Pets Alive!.

The plan and the goal will be the same in 2019 because Houston is full of organizations doing exceptional work.

I encourage everyone to travel as much as they possibly can. But I now also encourage everyone to donate their money or time to causes and organizations they find worthy because there are few things that can bring greater satisfaction. An example is a teacher in Houston whose project I recently supported. She wrote me a personal letter thanking me for helping her better serve her students. It made me so happy to help her.

I won’t tell you which organizations are best. I won’t tell you what type of causes to focus on. And I won’t even tell you to set a goal. But I will tell you that giving your time or money or both to non profit organizations that seem to stretch every dollar to its maximum extent has brought me a great amount of pride. And maybe, just maybe doing so would do the same for you.

Back to books next time.

The Diary of an Unhappy Nobody: Day 32

I mentioned in a post last month that I’m going to be a more generous and giving person in 2018. The goal is to donate to a different nonprofit organization in or around the city of Houston each month of the year. My first choice was the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I’ve made my first donation. Now it’s time to announce the second organization I’ve chosen. But again, I want to explain why.

It really doesn’t matter where you stand on the political spectrum to recognize that over the past year or so hate in many different forms seems to have increased in the public eye.

Now I’m not going to sit here and say that I previously thought racism or sexism or any type of hate or discrimination or prejudiced behavior had completely been eradicated. Of course not. For example, I’ve just read that white supremacists are targeting college campuses more and more with each passing day. It’s obvious why college campuses are the target. Because if a particular group or individual are not allowed to speak or hold a gathering, then that evolves into the university limiting free speech.

Look, if you believe white people, especially men, are the supreme Race, that’s your business. But this IS still 2018. And however many in your sphere believe that, it simply isn’t mainstream. Even with all the talk of immigration that may somehow lead you to believe you’re on the right side of this.

The point I’m making is that we’ve seen things like this before. Some have witnessed first-hand what happens when a group persecutes another group for being different. It’s what history books call the Holocaust. I’m absolutely not comparing what we experience in the US to what took place at the hands of the Nazis. But I visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC almost two years ago. After my visit I bought a small wrist band that says “What you do matters”. I’ve worn it everyday since to remind myself to speak up and speak out against hate when I see it. And to do everything I possibly can to prevent anything close to the Holocaust from happening again. I’m just one person in a sea of billions, but my second organization of the year is the Holocaust Museum Houston for their work educating so many on what happens when the world turns a blind eye to hate and genocide, but also for their work to prevent both.

The Diary of an Unhappy Nobody: Day 4

I read something in the NYT recently that I found rather interesting. The writer vowed not to buy any materialistic items for a calendar year.

It sounds overdramatic when you just read that sentence, but I found her reasoning to be rational. I found the article compelling.

In an effort to improve myself, in association with being a more giving person in 2018, I’m going to challenge myself to do the same thing. What’s excluded from my personal challenge will be any kind of food, hygiene items, and souvenirs from when I travel since those items support museums and parks I visit.

I’m also making a one time exception for clothing this month because I’m headed to Chicago and I just don’t have the wardrobe needed for the trip. That’s it.

I already spend so little of my money that I don’t foresee this adding thousands of dollars to my various accounts, but at the end of 2018 I’ll decipher my savings throughout the year and make an additional charitable contribution on top of my monthly donations.

The Diary of an Unhappy Nobody: Day 2

Everything on here isn’t going to be negative, I promise you that. Today is the first example.

Every year people say they want this or that to change in their life and so often nothing really changes. I say screw that. This year I have one goal. Not to read more. Not to post more on here. Not to travel more. And not even to find happiness. It’s to be more giving.

I know I’ve told y’all I’m lonely and unhappy, and I am, but I have a great job I love more than you can imagine. I have a home. I can go to the grocery store across the street whenever I need to. I don’t live paycheck to paycheck. And most importantly, I’m healthy.

Last year I gave $205 (I think) to different causes. That’s not enough. My plan is to at least triple that and perhaps get it up to $1000 for the calendar year. I know it’s a small drop in the bucket, but as time moves forward I’ll increase as I can.

Each month I will select one nonprofit organization in or around the city of Houston to donate to. Tomorrow I’ll write about the first organization I’ve selected.

I #CantDoNothing. What about you?

This will be my second non-bookish post of the last few days. But it’s something that is very important to me.

I imagine that nearly all of the people on WordPress are in the developed world. And maybe some in the developing world. Which means most of you all are at least mildly aware of the refugee crisis happening in and around Syria and other countries. Maybe you don’t go out of your way to read about it and maybe you don’t even care because it’s “their” problem. That’s fine. No one is required to care about anything.

But let me remind you of something. Most of the major conflicts and catastrophes in history have been resolved because people decide to help other people. Natural disasters. War. Epidemics. And the crisis in Syria is our chance.

Obviously not everyone has money to spare to give to organizations on the ground, and that’s okay. Actress Milana Vayntrub (you may know her as Lilly on the ATT commercials) has started an organization called Can’t Do Nothing to spread awareness about the refugee crisis currently ongoing, and to raise resources to help those on the ground.

She isn’t asking you to give her your money. She’s really just asking you to watch her short documentary (13 minutes long) about what she’s seen firsthand in Greece, where refugees are arriving every hour. And if you’re moved to action you can donate your time, money, or voice to help one of three organizations she’s partnered with.

The situation for most of these refugees is extremely dire. They lack access to medicine, shelter, clothing, diapers, food. All things most of us have at our disposal. Things we probably take for granted on a daily basis. These people don’t have, and they don’t have them because of things entirely out of their control.

And the thing is that they aren’t looking for handouts. They’re looking for an opportunity to begin again. One man Milana spoke with during her documentary said he wanted to continue his grad studies. There are so many more refugees exactly like him.

I don’t know when or if the United States will resettle refugees here at home, but our government doesn’t have to keep us from making a significant difference in the lives of others.

I #CantDoNothing after what I’ve seen. What about you?

You can visit the organization’s website at cantdonothing.org

Below is Milana’s short documentary on her experience.

Taylor Swift Partners With Scholastic to Donate 25,000 Books

Taylor Swift gets praised and criticized for everything. I’m not a fan of her music. I don’t follow her on social media. And I’m not generally interested in any “news” that comes out about the superstar. I have nothing against her, I actually believe her to be one of the great artists in music today. I just like my country.

But when someone as popular as she is does something to support literacy and get kids reading, I take notice. Scholastic will donate the books to New York area public schools. I’m not sure exactly what her role in the donation is, but I imagine she’s been supporting Scholastic’s charitable efforts for some time.

I know it can be easy to criticize celebrities for attaching their name to charitable causes, but who cares? Promoting literacy is promoting literacy. And Taylor Swift might be the biggest star in the world. So good for her.

What do you think?