this is the archive page

Making a Difference in a Teen’s Life

Teenagers tend to get a bad rep. Oftentimes, they’re noisy, irritable and maybe even disrespectful. From an adult’s perspective, teens can be pretty hard to manage. However, the teenage years are actually a very valuable time in a person’s life. The teen’s brain is still developing, they’re on the cusp of adulthood and they’re trying to figure out their identity. Not to mention, middle and high school can be a tough place to find friends and feel accepted.

Teenagers have a lot to manage and not a lot of life experience to utilize, which can result in a bad attitude and frustrating relationships. All of this is exactly why teenagers need valuable adult relationships in their lives. They need someone they can look up to, feel connected with and know they can go to during difficult times. If you’re an adult trying to live a more altruistic life, one of the most valuable contributions you can make is supporting a teenager.

Teenagers are our future; by building them up and encouraging them—even if they’re not our own children—we can create a better future for generations to come. Still, how do you start? How can you establish a valuable relationship with a teenager? Today we dive into some ways to make a difference in a teen’s life.

1. Volunteer with school programs.
One of the easiest ways to make a difference in a teenager’s life is by volunteering through a school or afterschool program. Whether you help out as a coach for a sport team, take charge of a club or work with a nonprofit organization, you can connect with teenagers of all different backgrounds in your community. Programs like these are constantly looking for new volunteers, and oftentimes will even provide valuable resources to help you learn more about communicating with teenagers. Check in your community to see what programs are available through the school or through an organization and learn how you can get more involved.

2. Show up consistently.
How do you gain a teenager’s trust? Keep showing up. People—teens especially—value those relationships with those who are there for them, no matter what. If you find a worthwhile program that you want to volunteer with, don’t just make it a one-time thing. One-time volunteering doesn’t allow you to build any sustainable relationships. Instead, keep showing up consistently, so the teens can get to know you more and more. The more you show up, the more they will recognize you and feel comfortable opening up.

3. Give them food.
Honestly, who doesn’t love food? As Charles M. Schulz said, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” Teens are no different—they go where the food is. And since teenagers often aren’t done growing yet, they need a lot of it. They also don’t have very much of their own money. When you spend time with teenagers, make them a home-cooked meal, take them out for fast food or even provide some snacks to really help build up a stable relationship. You’d be surprised how many teens will come for the free food, then stay for the conversation and bonding time.

4. Listen to them.
All of us want to know that someone out there hears us, including teens. Think about it—teens spend the majority of their day listening to adults tell them what to do. It’s no wonder they can feel frustrated sometimes; they don’t feel heard. The most valuable thing you can do to make a difference in a teenager’s life is simply to listen to them. Listening—true listening—is a gift. Listen to a teenager’s problems, struggles and joys in life without being quick to offer advice or condemn their choices. By opening up and really listening, you can truly be a meaningful person for teenagers to go to.

Teenagers are the future of our community. By investing in them, we invest in generations to come. Use these tips to get involved and make a difference in a teen’s life today.

this is the archive page

6 Books to Read About Giving Back

Dictionary.com defines altruism as “the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others.” If you strive to live an altruistic life, then you dedicate significant time, energy or support to those around you, either by donating with an organization you care about, volunteering with others or even showing your support for those in your community.

Sometimes, an altruistic life can be challenging. It can sometimes feel overwhelming, unsatisfying or even lonely. At times like these it’s important to know that you’re not in it alone. There are others out there in the world who want to make a difference, too. They even write books about it. We compiled a list of six of the greatest books to read about giving back. These books inspire the altruistic lifestyle and show anyone can make an impact on the world. Let’s explore each of them more in depth.

1. Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, Peter H. Diamandis & Steven Kotler
Published in 2012, this New York Times bestseller offers practical solutions to address some of the world’s most pressing concerns, such as overpopulation, food, water, energy, education, healthcare and freedom. The authors offer a future where nine billion people have access to all of Earth’s resources and everything else necessary for a first world standard of living.

2. Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results, Thomas J. Tierney & Joel L. Fleishman
In this 2011 book, authors co-founder of The Bridgespan Group Thomas J. Tierney, and Duke professor Joel L. Fleishman, pool together their hands-on nonprofit knowledge to present a definitive guide to engaged philanthropy for donors.

3. Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption, Katie Davis
Originally published in 2009, Katie Davis’s autobiography shares her story of courage and love. At just 18-years-old, Davis left her hometown, friends, family and boyfriend of Nashville, Tennessee, to move to Uganda, adopt 13 children and establish a ministry. If you want to read a personal impact story of altruism, this is the book for you.

4. A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn
From the same husband and wife team who brought to life the #1 New York Times bestseller Half the Sky comes their next best book in 2014. This book shares a deep examination of people who are making the world a better place, along with the myriad of ways we can support them. With research and reporting, the writers share on the art and science of giving.

5. Systems Thinking for Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results, David Peter Stroh
David Peter Stroh’s 2015 book helps readers contribute more effectively to society by teaching them what systems thinking is and why it is important in their work. It also provides concrete guidance on how to incorporate systems thinking into problem solving, decision making and strategic planning. For donors and nonprofit leaders, this is the book to start with.

6. 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, Howard Graham Buffett
What would you do if someone granted you $3 billion to accomplish something great in the world? In 2006, legendary investor Warren Buffett posed this question to his son Howard Graham Buffett. So, Howard set out to help the most vulnerable on the planet—nearly a billion people who lack food security. He gave himself a deadline of 40 years to put the resources to work on the challenge. In this 2013 manifesto, Howard shares his journey and an informative guidebook for how to ignite real changes in the world.

Altruism might feel like a lonely journey at times, but that could not be further from the truth. If you want to live a more altruistic lifestyle, start by checking out some of these six great books on giving back. Dive in, learn something new and be inspired to truly make an impact on the world.

this is the archive page

Go Green for Earth Day 2018

Third Rock from the Sun, The Blue Planet, Terra… all of these nicknames have one thing in common: they represent the Earth, our home planet, and the thing through which all life is sustained. As George Santayana once said, “The earth has music for those who listen.” And listen we shall.

The truth is humans haven’t always been very kind to the Earth. Whether it’s air pollution, waste disposal or harmful misuse of our natural resources, we tend to be a little tough on the home we love so much. But, in just a few short days we get to celebrate and give back to the planet that provides. This coming Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day! Earth Day 2018 is the perfect opportunity to get involved with your community and take care of our Earth. Let’s talk about some ways to go green for Earth Day 2018.

1. Plant something.
Earth Day was created to not only celebrate the planet we live on, but to give back to it and help create a better world for generations to come. How can you do this? By planting something others can enjoy in the future. Try planting a tree, flowers or other greenery in your yard or in a community garden to help make a difference in our world. You can help support fresher soil, cleaner air and a more aesthetic environment for the Earth.

2. Learn more about recycling.
If you want our Earth to be around for much longer, try building sustainable habits into your everyday routine. While recycling is a simple concept, oftentimes we can recycle a lot more materials than we actually do. Take time this Earth Day to learn more about recycling—what you can recycle, if there’s a recycling service near you or what the recycling laws are in your city. When you understand more about recycling, you can take more steps toward sustainable habits that benefit our world.

3. Turn off electronics.
You probably heard your mom or dad say, “Turn off the lights!” or “Unplug that cord!” when you were younger. While they may have been concerned about electricity prices, turning off electronics is also a great way to go green this Earth Day. Saving on electricity helps conserve energy, which builds a better world. Turn off your electronics, use less air conditioning during the summer or switch to low-energy appliances to help make a small change at a time.

4. Get outside.
What better way to celebrate Earth Day then to get outside and enjoy the beautiful nature of our Earth? What might seem like a simple task can quickly become difficult as schedules fill up with activities, so create a set schedule for you to stick to and spend time outdoors. Whether you exercise, play sports or just spend time with friends and family, make an effort to get outside this spring and summer and appreciate Mother Nature.

5. Tell others.
Finally, tell others about Earth Day! One person can definitely have an influence, but the more people involved, the more impact we can create on building a more beautiful world. Be sure to remind others about Earth Day and share ways, opportunities or events for them to join in and celebrate the day with you. Together, we can build a more sustainable future for generations to come and enjoy.

Earth Day 2018 is just a few short days away, so start brainstorming now for ways to get involved and make a difference. Try out some of these tips to join in and commemorate the occasion. Go green for Earth Day 2018 and create a vital impact on the natural community around you.

this is the archive page

How to Find a Cause You Care About

So, you have a passion for helping others. You’ve heard about struggles locally, nationally and even internationally, and you want to make a difference. You want to get involved with a cause, but there’s just one small problem… you’re not sure which cause to get involved in.

After all, there are so many wonderful organizations, charities and programs out there, all working towards making the world a better place. You would love to help all of them, but you don’t have a ton of time on your hands. Does this sound like you? An eager volunteer without a cause. For some, finding an important cause they’re passionate about proves to be very difficult. If you want to live a more altruistic life, but aren’t sure where to start, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how to find a cause you care about.

1. Question yourself.
First, find a cause you care about by asking yourself the hard questions. It’s easy to look at various causes and immediately feel overwhelmed by the different needs, so start out by questioning your motives. What do you truly care about? Many programs in the community need volunteers, but more than anything they need passionate volunteers and donors who truly care about the cause and believe in the mission. Start by asking yourself the tough questions to see where your passion lies, not simply where the need is.

2. Think about your own life.
While you question yourself, think about your own life. What experiences have you had that inspire you to give back in a similar way? Maybe you had a mentor growing up who really inspired you; you could also be a mentor to a child in your community. Maybe your family immigrated here, so now you have a special connection with immigrants or refugees. Or, maybe you had some tough challenges growing up, and want to help those going through similar situations. Reflect on your life to see where your heart connects with a cause.

3. Consider your strengths.
Next, consider your strengths. Volunteers are always valuable, but let’s be honest: there are some things we’re better at than others. For instance, if you have an intense fear of public speaking, then teaching English classes at the community center might not be the best fit. Think about what your strengths are and what organizations have programs in place that could utilize those strengths.

4. Examine your capacity.
Once you’ve identified your strengths, think about your capacity. This could mean anything from available time, to your actual mental or emotional capacity. Depending on the organization and the role you fill, it might take a lot out of you mentally or emotionally. Do you have the capacity to make the commitment to fill the role? On the other hand, some volunteering commitments can take up a significant amount of time. Do you have the availability for the position? Think about the many areas of your capacity and what you’re capable of taking on right now.

5. Do your research.
Once you’ve considered your own life and discovered a cause you care about, it’s time to find the right organization that fits your passion! Do your research on organizations locally, statewide or nationally to learn more about programs you could get involved with. Research their mission, programs and available volunteer opportunities to see how they could fit into your life. Researching the organization beforehand is critical to finding the right volunteering fit.

Now that you know the cause you care about and the organization you want to help, reach out! Get in touch with a nonprofit you identify with and see how you can get involved to help make the world a better place.

this is the archive page

Altruistic Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

Happy April! April brings many joys with it—one of which being National Poetry Month. National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world, with millions of poetry fans demonstrating poetry’s important place in our culture. According to Poets.org, the largest goals for National Poetry Month include highlighting the extraordinary legacies of American poets, encouraging poetry reading among the culture and increasing the attention and support of poetry in education.

Poetry is a cultural art form which combines both the beauty of literature and an artistic sense of musicality. When it comes to living an altruistic lifestyle, there are lots of ways to get involved this National Poetry Month. Today we dive into a few ideas to get started.

1. Memorize a famous poem. Sounds simple enough, right? However, if you find a challenging poem, memorizing can be difficult. Try something new by memorizing a famous poem you enjoy, and see how much you can impress others with your hidden poetry talent.

2. Write a poem. One great way to celebrate National Poetry Month is by writing your own poem. Get creative and stretch your abilities to see if you have a hidden talent.

3. Collaborate on a poem with friends. If you really want to get out of your comfort zone, think about collaborating on a group poem with friends or family members. See if there are any writing or poetry programs in your community to get involved with and collaborate on poetry together.

4. Start a poetry reading group. Keep things going even beyond National Poetry Month by starting a poetry reading group with other interested friends, family or co-workers. Or, see about starting a group with people in your community who need teaching and support.

5. Read a poem each morning. Get in the spirit of things by selecting a new poem to read each morning this month. Share it with friends and family to start your day off on a high note.

6. Share a poem with students. If you’re a teacher, tutor or someone who spends time with students, share a poem with them to foster a love of poetry. Help encourage poetry writing and teaching in the classroom for years to come.

7. Buy a book of poetry. All your favorite poems in one place. Buy a poetry book so you can enjoy poetry this month, or pay it forward by donating a poetry book to someone or an organization you love.

8. Sign up for a poetry class. If you’re not sure about your poetry abilities, sign up for a class at your local after-school program, community center or nonprofit organization to learn more.

9. Write a Mother’s Day poem. Don’t forget that Mother’s Day is also just around the corner. Surprise your mother or a mother-figure in your life by writing a Mother’s Day poem to brighten her day.

10. Go to an open mic night and share a poem. Finally, go out on a limb and try something new this month by sharing a poem at an open mic night. Go to your favorite restaurant, cafe or local organization to see what events are available in the community. Whether it’s a famous poem or your own creation, the adventure is worthwhile.

Celebrate this National Poetry Month by learning more, trying it out for yourself and sharing the gift with others. Poetry is a beautiful way to express creativity, so have some altruistic fun and enjoy the stanzaic experience.