Change Starts with You
January 20, 2009
On the eve of Barack Obama’s historic inauguration, on a day where he asked the country to volunteer, I thought I’d cover the organizations where I am committed – both with dollars and time.
While there are certainly many, many great charities and non-profits out there with very noble missions, I found once I had kids that it was more realistic for me to streamline my volunteering, to maximize my efforts and really see it making a difference. I always suggest to people who want to begin lending a hand to start small, because if it’s too much of a time or financial commitment, you won’t stick with it. And the best relationships build and grow over time. You can also look for ways to help that don’t take much effort – for example, when Ken converted, in lieu of gifts we asked people to make donations to Sloan-Kettering in memory of his mom. Or we’ve signed up to do different things at our kids’ school, which lets us do good while spending time with them. And recently the Y by us was collecting canned goods for local shelters, so I filled the cart at the market with some extra food and took it along the next time Austin had a swimming lesson.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Cancer, unfortunately, is pervasive in our world and has taken members of our own families. Sloan-Kettering is a leader in the research and treatment of the disease and in fact our good friend was recently successfully treated there for breast cancer. If you donate, you can specify where your money goes, whether it be into research for a specific kind of cancer or for different patient services. (For more info, visit mskcc.org.)
The Anti-Defamation League: Their mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people…to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” While it was started primarily to combat anti-semitism, the ADL works to end hate and prejudice against every race and religion. They monitor hate groups and provide different educational materials to teach kids about how to have inclusive environments at school and in their communities. (For more info, visit adl.org.)
Kelly Writers House: I loved going to the University of Pennsylvania, but until the Writers House launched in 1995, after graduation I didn’t have a specific area that I could funnel my money and time into. But the Writers House, led by the dynamic professor Al Filreis, offers all students on campus a haven for whatever artsy itch they need to scratch. Poetry slams, fiction readings, talks by amazing authors like David Sedaris and Joan Didion (followed by brunch!), art exhibitions, jazz ensembles – it’s really amazing all of the different opportunities the House offers students. I’m on their advisory board and I sponsor an annual fiction event. And I’m jealous I missed the House by a few years! (Check out more about the House at writing.upenn.edu.)
The Museum of Arts and Design: Formerly the American Craft Museum, MAD recently moved to a spectacular new space in Columbus Circle that allows the museum to showcase more of its permanent collection as well as offer classroom space and studios for artists to work in as museum-goers pass through. I highly recommend their current exhibition, “Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary,” which runs til April 19th. I serve as co-chair of their 360 Young Collectors group, and we have different events throughout the year to give people access to design and art they might not otherwise see, as well as raise funds for the museum. (You can learn more at madmuseum.org.)
Some of those might interest you, or maybe they’ll spur you to forge relationships with whatever organizations you care about.
We joined some other families from Austin’s class today for bowling at Chelsea Piers. (Thanks for organizing, Jodi!) I had only bowled once before and Austin had never bowled, but we had a great time and I’d definitely recommend it for a cold or rainy day. Unlike other activities which bill themselves as fun for the whole family but are actually hellacious for the adults, this really is something kids and parents can do together. And the lanes at Chelsea Piers are very clean and the staff was very nice. Austin scored 104!
It’s Just Not OK
You know what? It’s not okay to eat on the subway. It’s not okay to cut your nails, shave or masturbate on the subway either, all of which I have seen at some point (thankfully not all at once). Just thought I’d point that out after watching one guy devour a super-sized McDonald’s meal and another wolf down a hot dog on the trains today, with mustard dripping down his arms. Gross.
Hope you’re all planning to tune in to watch Obama take the oath tomorrow. No matter how you voted, we all have a stake in his success. Good luck, Mr. President!