Happy Christmas Eve!
Growing up, my parents instilled in me the idea that it is easy to give money and hard to give time. If you truly want to make an impact and a difference you give both, but if you can't give one you can surely give the other.
Several years ago I found myself a bit sadder than I'd like to be. My life was going thru major flux and I just felt kind of lost. I think being lonely or depressed is totally normal when you are either in your early twenties and dealing with college and classes and deadlines, or a Hawaiian transplant going through NYC winters, if you're recently single after years of a stable and loving relationship, or if you happen to be an artist. Unfortunately at this particular time I was all of these things at once. At any rate, I was kind of in the pits.
Oh man, I wanted medication for the sweeping wave of sad. Since it was obvious it was more situational than physical, the only thing left to do was to change something. I started to look for a place to volunteer. In the beginning I tried lots of different things, I took care of dogs for ASPCA, I handed out blankets to the homeless, I helped with a hotline and the list goes on. In the end I found two charities that really work for me.
If you are a professional NYC based artist, you really should join the Ink Well Foundation. It is the best.
" We are a group of professional animators, illustrators, and cartoon artists who draw with hospitalized children. Our talented crew has worked on everything from The Hulk comic books to The Rugrats movies to Speed Racer cartoons and much more. Our goal is to let the kids draw with the very artists who create their favorite film, TV, and illustrated characters. We hope to share the power of art as self-expression, and as a good way to just take a break from trying times and have some fun!"
I've found it to be a wonderful place. It's a remarkable way to get out of myself and remember how lucky I am to be working and healthy and free to be creative and active.
Two years ago job-job broke the bank and gave each and every one of us and our dates $25 gift certificates to Donors Choose as our Holiday party gift.
This year Oprah chose them as one of her favorite things. I love when I beat Oprah to something great. If you just give to this foundation one time, you'll be hooked line and sinkered. I have given to Donor Choose a lot since that holiday party. I always support the art programs on the site. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun it is to participate here. I get thank you notes and photos. It is a blast seeing where my money is going. I love knowing kids try a variety of new supplies and mediums and a relief to know that art is staying alive in random spots in America's school system. There are huge corporations that match a lot of your donor gifts, so your money goes even further. You can support virtually anything an elementary or high school does at Donors Choose. It's been a perfect match for me.
In 2011 resolve to give back a little more. If you are in search of a great charity that will work for you, consider using the very fabulous http://www.volunteermatch.org/
During this holiday season I am often reminded of The Little Drummer boy, who having nothing else to give played for Him on his drum. Volunteering has only helped my life. I really hope that you get a chance to do it too.
What places do you love to give back to, or with?