In college I was incredibly active. Always jumping from one meeting to the next, constantly juggling different assignment and outside projects, and honestly… I loved it! In a strange way, whenever I am busy I feel like everything falls into place. I first noticed it in high school, that I perform best when I have absolutely zero time. Every spring my grades were better and I was happier and more organized. That’s because it was lacrosse season. Although I was not the best player (by any stretch of the imagination) having practice every night and away games weekly, I had less time to procrastinate on my work when I finally made it home. Once I got to Bucknell I knew that I wanted to be involved, and one of my main activities was joining my sorority Delta Gamma. I served as Director of Rituals and was active in all areas of sorority life, including philanthropy.
Delta Gamma’s philanthropy is Service for Sight, which supports four schools founded by Delta Gammas for the visually impaired and other North American organizations that promote sight preservation and provide assistance to children and adults who are blind or visually impaired. Every year our chapter had two major events that donated all the proceeds to Service for Sight, Anchor Slam (a basketball contest) and Anchor Splash (a pool relay race)!
Attending college in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania definitely limited our resources to give back. Most of our Service for Sight hours were spent at a nearby retirement center. We would bring the residents to the weekly Sunday church service and play bingo with them during weekday afternoons, as well as lend a hand at special holiday celebrations. My personal favorite was when I joined a few Chi Phi fraternity members to take the residents on a little bus tour. We drove around the area for a few hours and just chatted with the residents, ending the afternoon with a quick ice cream stop. Each person I spoke with had such incredible stories and their faces would light up whenever I asked them questions. It was a simple afternoon, but powerful.
Whenever I left the retirement center I would feel a mixture of emotions. I was happy to spend time with these residents and ask them questions about themselves. These visits were also an often necessary breath of fresh air during my crazy weeks. But I would also leave feeling incredibly sad. These residents live here 24/7 without family members and most typically do not have regular visitors. It always provided me with a little perspective and more times than not I called my Grandma afterwards to tell her I loved her. Sometimes fraternity and sorority members on campus would scoff at having to do community service and philanthropy events, and if I’m being completely honest I was one of them. However, whenever I spent time giving back (no matter how big or small) I always felt more fulfilled.
Since graduating college and moving to New York City I have been looking for ways to fill my time outside of my full time job. Winter has not been much help in this area, but now that the weather is finally starting to warm up, I am looking to be more active, specifically philanthropically. I am lucky enough to work for a corporation that values charity and giving back so much. I am starting to get increasingly involved with our company’s millennial group that includes a philanthropy focus.
Beyond this I am still looking for an organization to give back to. Although I am open to donating money, I want to make sure that I am actively involved with the organization. I don’t want to just throw money somewhere, because to me it feels too far removed. I want to see that I am helping in some way, no matter how big or small. I read an article recently that examined the way the millennial generation gives back, and how our spending habits differ greatly from our parents and grandparents generations. Millennials focus less on “donations” and more on investing emotionally. I agreed with what this article was getting at, because I want to ensure that whatever organizations I choose to give back to, I am passionate about their work! I am still on the hunt for the charity I connect with most (and can use any helpful suggestions you may have!). Giving back shouldn’t be out of obligation, but instead out of an emotional connection. I hope to find the perfect organization and start giving back soon.
Are there any causes or charitable organizations you are passionate about? How did you find ones that you felt strongly enough to give back to?