Sunday, January 2, 2011

Operation Inspiration

Our typical weekend includes a birthday party of two, which usually includes a present, which usually includes some sort of Disney Princesses something.  How to teach your child to care about social justice and that not everyone has big fancy elaborate birthday parties with hordes of presents?

In effort to begin to share important values with my family, I went in search of age appropriate volunteer activities.  It was more difficult than I would have expected.  A few ideas included, visiting a senior citizen home, packing meals together and helping to restore nature trails.  I will update you in January when we help prepare meals together.

In my professional life, I work as a consultant with a variety of nonprofits and social enterprises.  So hopefully as inspiration to give back in 2011 here are some great organizations and ones that I think are doing really innovative work.

Kiva-Small micro-finance loans that truly change peoples' live.  By donating through Kiva, you can help entrepreneurs get the seed capital they need to start a new business and often transform the economic path for their family.  (Also, I just realized that they were chosen as one of Oprah's 2010 Favorite Things, please don't let that be a deterrent.  Even though it usually is for my book list.)

Soma Goods-As the old world status of charities go out the window and the new model of social enterprises and LC3s take old, I am excited at corporations that "Do Good".  Soma Goods is a new emerging social venture out of Atlanta (in full disclosure, started by a long lost friend-but none the less, really great).  They will work with refugee women to produce home goods made from recycled saris.

Inspiration Cafe/Cop-This was the place where I first fell in love with volunteering and helping others.  I have been involved with Inspiration Cafe since I was 16.  It started as a modest cafe that would allow the homeless a hot meal with dignity in a restaurant type setting.  They have branched out to include job training, cafes across the City and a social enterprise restaurant in Chicago's Uptown/Edgewater community, Cafe Too.

And then there is Tuesday's Child.  We all struggle with meltdowns, tantrums and if you are like me, strong willed children.  It's how we deal with these...umm, shall we say,..bumps in the road that sets up apart.  Tuesday's Child helps parents with positive discipline and to strives create a stronger relationships between parents and children.  They also help kids too, which has been really helpful for our family.

Obviously there are hundreds/thousands more.  So get inspired and go volunteer.


  1. Great post. We donated gifts to kids less fortunate for one night of Hanukkah instead of giving the kids gifts. Volunteering is a good way to keep the ball rolling.

  2. That's really great that you're getting them started in volunteering so young. :)

  3. I read about this site today - maybe it will help coordinate options for families!

    Interested to hear how the meals go - are you going to the local food bank?