Charity Begins at Work

As a creativity and brainstorming coach for Before & After, I have the privilege of meeting some wonderful people in a variety of interesting fields.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of conducting a day-long seminar for Childreach, an organization in Warwick, RI. Childreach is a member of PLAN International, whose mission statement reads, in part, as follows: “PLAN International is a child-centered organization that works at the grassroots level with children, their families and their communities. The ultimate objective of our work is to make lasting improvements in the lives of needy children.”

Childreach combines its efforts with other PLAN International member organizations in 16 countries to channel resources and support to children, their families, and their communities in 43 developing nations.

Preparing for the brainstorming session, I did my homework and studied the organization. What I found was that it is totally dedicated to helping children in some of the world’s most inhospitable regions. I was very nervous about this engagement, because 32 people took a full day off to gather and try to solve a few very specific, and very important, issues relating to their organization.

As the day progressed, I noticed something interesting: Everyone in the room was solely focused on finding solutions that would make the world a better place for children. They weren’t concerned with people’s titles, salaries, perks, and fancy lunches. Everything we worked on for six hours was dedicated to increasing the number of Americans who become sponsors so that the children in the world’s poorest 43 countries would have a hot meal and some hope.

Flying back home that night, I realized that all of us are damned lucky to be surrounded with the gifts of housing, healthcare, and the certainty that we know where our next meal is coming from.

Everyone in our industry is concerned about belt tightening, layoffs, and downtime. Why not use some of that time to volunteer your talents to an organization that needs it? In every city and town in the country, there are charities that could use some help.

  • Are you a graphic designer with a few hours to spare? Why not contact one of the charities in your town and offer to redo its logo? Who would turn down the chance to have a professional like you upgrade their image?
  • If you’re a copywriter with some extra time, why not call around and see if anyone needs a brochure updated or created?
  • Are you an account manager? Charities are always creating events that need some professional time-management expertise.
  • If you’re a student who is out looking for a job in the industry, a good way to build your book with real work is to volunteer your time with a local charity. You’ll have more responsibility thrown at you faster than if you were at an agency, and you’ll have real work to show at the end of the project.
  • Do you run an agency that could do more for your community? Send an email to your entire company and ask what local charities your folks are involved with, then see what you can do to help. It’s amazing how energizing it is to pull together for something that truly matters.

Get involved and make a difference. You’ll get more out of it than you put into it. And to everyone at Childreach, especially Marketing Director Amy Luz, thanks for a great day and a great learning experience.

Here is an example of a country in which Childreach is making a difference:

Per-capita income: US$160/year
Life expectancy: 45 years
Access to safe water: 49%
Under-5 mortality rate: 200/1,000 live births

Guinea-Bissau is a former Portuguese colony located on the west coast of Africa between Senegal and Guinea. The name of the capital city, Bissau, is added to the name of the country probably to distinguish it from its southern neighbor Guinea.

The health system in the country is inadequate. Malaria, diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory illnesses are among the leading causes of death, especially among children.

The day-to-day life of the people is one of compromise with reality. The road network is very limited, and electricity, which exists only in the cities, is sporadic.

A large majority of the population has little or no access to schools. Primary school enrollment is estimated at 81/1,000 for males and 47/1,000 for females.

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