I’m posting this for a change of pace (not that I ever said this blog would be ‘all politics, all the time’). These days it’s easy to find something to gripe and/or get angry about so I really enjoy it when little things make me smile. In my humble opinion, it’s important to take time away from the bickering and all the petty crap that can arise on any given day (Congress, are you listening?!?). When I do just that, I like to use at least some of that time being grateful. Here are just a few examples; maybe they’ll inspire you.I received an e-mail today from an organisation I’ve known about for quite some time (and started lending supporting to) a couple of years ago: Kiva. They wrote to let me know a man to whom I loaned money has made another payment on his loan and his business, a grocery store in Uganda, is doing well (anddoing some good for his community). Kiva has an amazing global reach with the goal of helping people to help themselves through entrepreneurship. It’s a simple concept: your donation is in the form of a loan —> Kiva pools your money with other donors and lends that money to someone who has or is trying to start a small business even in the most remote areas of the planet —> the entrepreneur uses the funds to develop and sustain the business —> the loan is repaid to you from the profits. You can take your re-paid loan (which can be as small as $25) and re-invest it in someone else or take the proceeds back.Personally, I think it’s a safer “bet” than lending money to ‘cousin Mookie’; you ALL know you have (or have had) someone in your life who borrows money and never intends or manages to pay back a damn penny. Mookie may have the nerve to go on vacation or buy more bling with your money that s/he said was for “an emergency”, while the Kiva folks are building support systems for entire communities. At least if these folks don’t pay it back then you get to write it off as a true charitable donation — and you get the added benefit of not dealing with family drama when Mookie, in an effort to avoid you seeing the new wardrobe, runs away from you on the street.
Here you go: http://www.kiva.org/
Another organisation I really like is one to which I donate both money and my time. Many years ago I found what I consider to be the ultimate community service organisation for busy people: New York Cares. Don’t get me wrong; other groups do a great job with volunteerism but the thing I like most about this particular organisation is that no set schedule is required and there’s a wide variety of activities to support. If you’re busy and/or have a chaotic schedule this group is great because you can sign up for volunteer work at nearly the last minute — so there’s no worry about feeling bad if your boss called you to work late/weekends/holidays because you control when/how/what you do with the volunteer activities. Personally, I prefer direct-contact activities like soup kitchens or instructing a beginner’s computer class but for people who like working with seniors, children, in parks/schools, etc., there is something ready and waiting for you. I can’t think of a better way to spend a few hours than doing volunteer work. Anything that can take my head away from thinking about work, bills or a boring date makes it to my priority list. I’m in Brooklyn so I’m listing this organisation but, for those of you in other states or across the pond, I’m sure there must be a similar organisation.
Here you go again: http://newyorkcares.org/
If you’re not into working or donating to human causes, how about an animal cause? I’m one of those people who considers my pets miniature humans in clever disguises and can’t imagine a life without my fur babies; unconditional love from my furry children is a true blessing.
One of my favourite organisations is the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Not that I’m a sentimental sap (OK, I AM! Sue me!) but I now cannot hear Sarah McLaughlin sing without feeling the need to cut a check:
*Tell me that you didn’t just cry after watching that video…*
Animal lovers unite here: http://www.aspca.org/
Anyway, it’s a nice sunny day and I thought I’d share my good mood. There are many wonderful organisations out there — and lots of them are suffering the effects of this economic recession. So, if you want a really fulfilling reason to smile — and a great reason to be able to tell your cousin Mookie “NO” the next time a loan is requested, look into these organisations. Paying it forward is a great thing to do and you can benefit just as much as those who receive your help.