Giving Is Getting

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  • August 15, 2018
  • Starr Million Baker

It often feels as though we’re living in a divisive time. Differences in our politics, our economics, even our belief systems can wreak havoc on our sense of community. But if you look around, we all truly want the same things – health, comfort, and happiness for ourselves and those we love. Our volunteer work on Monday was a huge reminder of that, as we spent time making lunch for and breaking bread with families with children in hospital care.

INK chose to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House for our annual day of giving. The decision was somewhat arbitrary – and a bit self-centered, to be honest. We were looking for an organization with locations in each of our home bases (Austin, Denver, NYC) so that we could all volunteer “together” on the same day. And as a company led by moms, helping families of sick children (in even a small way) certainly struck a chord. But have you heard the story of the Ronald McDonald House – or perhaps the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake? I had not.

The Ronald McDonald House was started by Eagles player Fred Hill, after his three-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout his daughter’s treatment, Hill noticed the number of families sleeping in hospitals – in the corners, on chairs in the waiting rooms and hallways – because they didn’t live in the local area or couldn’t afford a place to stay. He called attention to the issue with his employer, the Philadelphia Eagles, and they pitched McDonald’s to help. With funds made from selling McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes, the Philadelphia Eagles and McDonald’s started the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia in 1971. There are now 365 houses in 63 countries on six continents, all dedicated to helping families while they comfort their children away from the comforts of their own homes.

This is what happens when we work together to create solutions. If we had stuck with the same way of doing things, parents and siblings the world over would be sleeping in chairs and on floors and eating out of vending machines while waiting for the doctor to give them an update on their family member. But you know what happens when you are fed and have a space to call your own and maybe even get a nap? You can keep on fighting. Fred Hill turned a terrible diagnosis into a positive impact on the world. Let’s be more like Fred.

I asked INKers to shout out organizations in our communities that, like the Ronald McDonald House, are making positive change around them so that we could share additional ideas on how to be more like Fred. Check these out:

Austin Pets Alive – Does amazing work in the animal community and is the reason Austin is a no-kill city.

4 Paws 4 Life – A nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing dogs from overpopulated, high-kill shelters and contributing to achieving a no-kill nation. They rescue dogs and cats every week, board them, foster them, provide medical treatment and behavioral treatment as necessary, and place them in their forever homes. They have a hardworking and wonderful staff, that is female-led as well which adds to how awesome they are.

Girls, Inc. – A national nonprofit that relies on volunteers to come in and spend time with young girls (ages 6-18) during the summer and before/after school. Their mission? Inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Komen Austin – Provides local resources and national research funding to save lives locally and fight breast cancer for good.

Harvesting Hope – This annual Denver 5K raises money to fight Prader-Willi Syndrome, which is the #1 cause of life-threatening obesity in children. A heartbreaking disease, Prader-Willi sufferers feel constant hunger pains, even when they’re full.

Upper Ninety – A positive youth development program for teens in low-income neighborhoods around Austin. Using soccer as the hook, they provide fun and effective out-of-school programming that helps students build a foundation for success in high school and beyond.

RBI Austin – Similar to Upper Ninety, this nonprofit uses the game of baseball as an opportunity to mentor and develop kids in need throughout Austin.

And lastly, here’s one idea we can all carry with us – people can almost always find a way to give back to local organizations in small ways (without a lot of time or money). Some people collect all the toiletries from their business travel and donate them to organizations like the Ronald McDonald House. Others clean out their homes once or twice a year and give canned goods to their local food pantry, or clothing to shelters.

There is no greater reward than the joy that comes from giving. To that end, we got way more than we gave this week. Get out and do the same in your community. What are some of your favorite local organizations? Loop us in at @heyINKco.

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