I often tell my kids the best way to make yourself feel better when you’re down is to do something nice for someone else. It may be counter-intuitive, but it really works. Feeling sorry for yourself when you’ve had a bad day – or bad week – only makes you feel sorrier for yourself. Doing something nice for someone else, however, even as small as holding a door or complimenting someone on their appearance, can help you snap out of your funk.
From a financial planning perspective, saving and investing for our financial freedom is important but so is the personal satisfaction of helping others along the way. Webster defines altruism as “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others.” I don’t think that really captures the full value of charitable giving, though. Let’s face it, we humans are communal animals who would find life intolerable without others. So, any act of kindness isn’t “unselfish” but, rather, quite selfish because we derive great joy by doing something nice for others. The fact that helping others also helps us doesn’t diminish the act, it’s what makes communities work.
So, the two following organizations are special to me, here are their stories:
YMCA of Central Kentucky:
Did you know no one is ever turned away from the Y because they can’t pay? The Y’s Annual Giving Campaign raises over $500,000 each year to help children attend summer camp or take swim lessons if their families can’t afford it. Membership dues don’t pay for this, only dollars raised from this campaign. This is what makes the Y something much more than “swim and gym” and what makes it so special.
At the High Street Y a woman came to our board meeting a couple years ago to thank us for the support she received for providing swimming lessons for her autistic son. She told us that people with autism are naturally drawn to rivers or swimming pools because of the calming effect of the water and, as a result, drowning is one of the leading causes of death among autistic people. She lived in constant fear that she would be separated from her son and he would flee to an unsafe situation, but she couldn’t afford swim lessons for him without help. Now, I don’t know about you, but my memory of swim lessons is an experience filled with cold water, fear and sensory overload – not a good combination for an autistic person. She described her son’s swim lessons at the Y, however, as a soothing exercise where the instructor met her son where he was and helped him learn at his pace. Now, she said, not only does she no longer live in fear for her son’s safety, but he loves swimming.
You may contribute to the Y Annual Giving Campaign here:
God’s Pantry Food Bank:
You may be surprised to learn this, as I was, that in Fayette County approximately 50,000 people are considered to be “food insecure.” Of those, approximately 11,750 are children. What is food insecurity? The USDA defines it as “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.” I don’t know about you, but I find it astounding that 50,000 people in Lexington, Kentucky struggle to put food on the table. And I know for a fact that those almost 12,000 kids will have difficulty learning if they are hungry.
In 1955, a woman named Mim Hunt began distributing food out of her basement to those in need of assistance. That initial effort grew and grew and became what we today know as God’s Pantry Food Bank. Today, over 121,000 meals per DAY are provided to people in need across 50 central and eastern Kentucky counties. The Food Bank has a network of more than 300 partner agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, who can order what they need through an online ordering system so they may deliver it to all corners of this huge territory.
This year God’s Pantry will distribute over 25 million meals. While roughly half of the cost to make this happen comes from USDA commodities – essentially food from the federal government – donated food will amount to over $15 Million and contributions from people like you and me will total over $3 Million.
If you’d like to join me, $40 will pay for 320 meals for hungry children; $70 will pay for 560 meals for struggling seniors, $150 will provide 1200 meals at an abuse shelter and $500 will provide 4,000 meals for families struggling with job loss. Contributing online is easy here: https://give.godspantry.org/give.now.
My advice? Find a cause you believe in and donate your time, talent and treasure. It’s a selfish act, but you’re worth it.