What is Your Passion? Finding Your Philanthropy

What do I consider philanthropy?

For me, it is the budgeting of a percentage of my family’s financial resources, donated yearly to nonprofits that are pursuing missions we agree are important and are being done well. My personal time and volunteer efforts may come along with this financial support (statistically, many people do give more to nonprofits where they volunteer), but it is not guaranteed. My husband jokes that I work more hours than he does in his full-time job, but mine are much more variable!

You have limited resources and only you can decide what is the best way to use them!

I started thinking of myself as a philanthropist through my work with Impact Austin. This is a collective giving group that gathers 500 or more women together who donate $1250 ($1000 to grants and $250 to overhead) and cumulatively give out half a million dollars or so a year in high-impact, targeted grants to nonprofits in the Central Texas area. Sounds kind of magical, doesn’t it? Few of us are wealthy, some are budgeting each month to make their yearly commitment, but most of us are in the middle. We can write that check but it definitely takes away from other charitable things we could do.

Why do women choose Impact Austin? Continue reading

Mentoring and Entering LC’s World

LC-KaliI met LC, my latest Seedling Mentee, last year when she was a kindergarten student at a school not too far from where I live. Her teacher was kind, sweet, and a redhead like me, and I think that may have eased my way in starting this new mentoring relationship.

Seedling Mentoring is for children who deal with the trauma of having an incarcerated parent, and although the parent may come out of prison, Seedling does not end the mentoring relationship.

You see, they know that the trauma has already occurred and that a parent’s reentry into the child’s life can often be one more change they must deal with, emotionally and academically.

When I met LC, we immediately talked about my father and I disclosed that he went to prison. Seedling requires that Mentees are aware that their Mentors know about their situation and that there is no need to hide or be ashamed.

She was not able to express much about her experience and feelings yet but she could draw them. In the beginning, she drew many pictures, even a few that were a bit disturbing, but I schooled my reactions and encouraged her to keep drawing how she felt so that those things were no longer just in her head. Continue reading

Saying Goodbye to Mena

Seedling Mentor ProgramSeedling_Lunch prepares and supports community volunteers like me in a school-based, research-driven relationship that has measurable results. Since it is based on best practices for mentoring children, it carefully teaches us how to begin, maintain and sometimes how to end a friendship with some of the most vulnerable children we will ever encounter. Continue reading

More Lessons from Mentoring

2014 Mentee and Me

My Seedling Mentee and Me

I have mentioned before that I mentor with an amazing program called Seedling Mentoring Program. My mentee is an 8-year-old Latina who is a child of an incarcerated parent. She is a sweet, smart little girl who has a vivid imagination and a load of potential, but she is also surrounded by barriers. Continue reading

Life Lessons from Mentoring

MentorPinAs I have shared in “Becoming a Very Best Thing,” I am mentoring a first grade girl this year through Seedling Mentor Program, a school-based, research driven and metrics based program that has great training and great support. This is a short award-winning video I think you will enjoy.

I come from a family that had its share of poverty and dysfunction, divorces and chaos. As an adult, I even had a dad in prison. The parallels between me and my little Mentee are many. You would think I would know everything I need to about how to communicate and behave constructively with her, but you would be wrong.

You see, I have forty plus years on her, and during that time I had a successful career, married a wonderful man, had two precious daughters, began my second career in philanthropy and along the way, I became financially comfortable and very removed from the culture of poverty and family crisis. I had to get re-indoctrinated and learn lessons from an adult perspective, and thank heavens, Seedling’s Promise assumes we all will need that and prepares us accordingly to be intentional mentors.

There are many books on the subject of the culture of poverty and Ruby Payne’s are “must reads” for anyone who really wants to explore it, but today I will share with you just a few things I learned this semester. Continue reading