Thursday, December 13, 2012
Though I do not assign myself to a physical religious place of worship- I do adhere to many of the teachings and tenets of judaism that relate to the idea of being responsible for one another and also to our larger community. This was passed down to me through my parents and grandparents- all great proponents of giving back, working with and respecting people less fortunate and with little or no access to opportunities. They not only talked about this- they worked at it.
In my earlier career I was a social worker working in communities in New York City and San Francisco. I was trained and educated to examine the intricate factors that serve to bring a human being or an entire community into poverty, substance abuse and hopelessness. It was intense work, but I learned a lot about urban areas and issues and ventured deep into neighborhoods that my peers had never even heard of or considered as a part of their city. My work took me to decayed housing projects, welfare hotels, homeless shelters and foster homes.
Having to move through so many different really intense communities really honed my observation skills and awareness of my surroundings and human conditions. I did what I could to help provide resources and support towards stabilization.
Though I am not doing the direct service work now, (though I plan on doing more this coming year on a volunteer basis) I believe strongly in giving back in whatever way you can and have incredible respect for those out in the trenches.
My fantasy of being a great philanthropist will not happen on an ceramicist's income- but I can still give what I can.
And I do. I dedicate a percentage of my earnings to donate to different non-profits whose work and mission I admire. I think too many people think that they can't give a lot so they don't give at all- this is a mistake. Knowing this from having worked behind the scenes at these type of organizations- every dollar really adds up and combined, count toward a lot of new programs and support for their clients.
This year I am supporting a variety of places:
Clinica Martin Baro- provices free medical services to indigent, undocumented residents of san francisco
Planned Parenthood: no matter what your views on choice-- still the number one provider of basic womens health services in low income communities
Black Star Development: economic development organization serving coastal areas of Ghana
NPR: local and nationally--for providing depth in reporting on issues and regions completely ignored by other media
Pueblo de Abiquiu Library and Cultural Center: rural library in an underserved part of northern new mexico
San Francisco Food Bank: provides much needed food resources to individuals and families in need
Ali Forney Center: mission is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. (60% of homeless youth are LBGT)
so give what you can this year- either by volunteering or a few dollars-- we're all in this world together...