Millennials & Charity Work

As you probably know, I write for a site TNGG. This article was originally written for them, but instead became the inspiration for my new themed articles that will be coming out about once a month on Millennials and charity work.

“It’s not how much money you make or whether you’re able to gain the approval of your peers. Inspiring hope by aiding those lacking the very essentials we take for granted every day is something that actually makes a constructive impact not only to yourself but to those impacted by your generosity. Only through helping those less fortunate than yourself can a person truly gain perspective on how lucky they really are.” — Mary June Olson

Mary, 25, volunteers with Denver’s Habitat for Humanity because she believes that “far too often members of our generation lack perspective on what really matters in life at the end of the day,” and she wants to make a difference. Olson is not the only millennial working with charities and helping raise money to make our world, and the world our children will live in one day, a better place.

Millennials are stepping up and volunteering in many ways to give back to the community as a whole. The number of volunteers for the Peace Corps and Teach for America has increased since the economy took a turn for the worse, but even millennials in college and the working world are volunteering daily around the world. A very common cause that millennials, and everyone, supports is cancer, but there are other smaller charities and causes that we support as well.

If we’re talking smaller, let’s talk micro — micro finance that is. As many business people, and anyone who studies the effects micro finance can have on the economy, know, this is a spectacular cause, especially these days. Little did a group of 2008 grads realize just how important micro finance would become as they graduated college in May 2008 and embarked on a 9-week trek to travel across the US by bicycle.

The group partnered with ACCION International to spread the word about how valuable micro finance was to fight poverty. When asked why they decided to undertake this challenge, Tyler Heishman, one of the creators of the plan says “the fact that it was fairly unheard of motivated us to become advocates for the cause, and we really liked the sustainable model that many organizations were striving for.”

Tyler and his friends aren’t the only crazy millennials biking the country to raise money and awareness. Every year since 2002, 25 college students bike from Baltimore to San Fransisco for the Hopkins 4K. Biking 4,000 miles may seem daunting to most, but the experience to help support such a great cause has left some wanting to bike 4,000 miles twice! The summer of 2007 Greg Gotimer “did not know what to expect from the trip and only hoped that (he) would be able to make a difference in the life of someone who was battling cancer. What (he) was not expecting was the magnitude of support we would get throughout the country for (the) ride.” That support left him wanting more — another 4,000 miles the following summer as well.

Not all of us have the time it takes to dedicate to training and biking across the US, but we’re going out to support good causes on our feet as well. More and more people are running marathons to support causes. Tim Loher ran the Boston Marathon in 2010 for two reasons. One, because he “wanted to achieve something that (he) never thought (he) would be able to do. Having never run more than 4 or 5 miles at a time, 26.2 seemed unfathomable.” And two, because he ran for the Boston Fund for Parks & Recreation to raise money for a program to help keep Boston teens off the streets by giving them “a source of income and the pride and self-respect that comes from holding a job.” Running the marathon and raising money for a cause left Tim with one of his greatest memories from his life.

The support that Greg felt biking across the States and the sense of accomplishment that Tim felt crossing the finish line are similar to what so many others feel when they are doing something for a good cause. Millennials have found other ways to reach out and give back as well. Specifically through mentoring and working with the younger generations. Organizations like Big Brother/Big Sister, Mentoring USA and the Mentoring Partnership of New York provide great places for millennials to get hands-on with the younger generations and help give back. Kristina Sorfozo mentors with Prime Time Through Urban Impact in Connecticut as a way to use her talents to “to love on these kids, break racial barriers and to teach them that love and correct conflict resolution wins outs in the end.” While these ideals seem simple enough to pass along to the younger generations, it’s a goal many of us have seem fit to take on ourselves.

How have you gone out to make a difference for tomorrow?

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