- be distressed, annoyed, or worried by.
What it was like to start up a “high-tech nonprofit website”
I’m so an excited about my role in a high-tech nonprofit web site. I have helped start VolunteerMatch nearly 4 years ago. Our mission is to match volunteers with nonprofits nationwide via our web site. To date we have matched more than 100,000 volunteers across the country. We have secured Internet partnership driving traffic to our site with top portals such as Infoseek, Snap! and AOL. Most recently we were announced on the Today Show and Oprah Winfrey Show as an excellent resource regarding volunteer opportunities.
“My New Year’s Resolution is about Peace and Presence in our days. We move with peacefulness, graciousness, in all that we do. With each activity, each interaction. We might have active days, but let’s match them with an equally active peaceful, present heart. ”
A continuing pattern throughout my life is understanding and entrenching myself in different cultures, specifically low-income communities. It is a life-long desire to understand how people in different, impoverished situations approach and overcome obstacles, in order to better themselves as well as their community collectively. Along with this goal comes the need to understand different languages, political situations, economic structures, and histories which impact a community.
My first memory of this desire came after a brief family vacation to Mazatlan, Mexico. At age 12, what impressed me was not the inundation of tables of silver, beads, sombreros, bartering voices, the strong smell of tortillas or wave-like, dried heat in the air. What immediately drew me were all the Mexican children, many misshapen and disfigured, most with sweet, dirty faces, pleading for money alongside their parents. It was clear I wanted to understand how community structures and resources, both native and exterior, could ameliorate these conditions.
My first involvement in a low-income culture was not abroad. It was right across the street in East Palo Alto. I worked with Nevida Butler at the Ecumenical Hunger Program, answering phones, speaking with community members, and learning about the challenges—individually, socially, politically, legally. This type of community involvement continued throughout high school and college, at a time when volunteerism was not in vogue. Volunteerism also continued in my professional life, with a focus on homeless individuals and inner city teens in South-Central, Los-Angeles working with life skills training for alcoholics on Skid Row. When I returned to Palo Alto, I served at JobTrain and Free At Last, two organizations providing support, professional training, and classes.
In conjunction with community service, I have focused on learning from well-established cultures. In junior high school I visited Germany, Austria and Holland; in high school I visited the UK, Paris, France and Italy. In my International Communications graduate program, I took a “marketing and media tour” through Prague, Geneva, London and Paris. In 1995, Prague was of especial interest due to its economic and political fragility and the resulting impact on the culture.
During these visits I focused on a series of questions: How did people communicate? What laws and processes needed to be in place? How important was local versus national leadership in the ability to effect change? What type of physical infrastructure was necessary, and what type of support was quickest and most acceptable—government, self funding, private, outside capital? All of this was with the mindset of learning what positive elements could be adapted or replicated in other cultures. Each trip builds upon a long-term vision, learning about each culture, and what works.
Most recently, I was able to combine the two objectives of service and international culture. In the barrios of Managua, Nicaragua, we focused on working with kids and their families in establishing a shelter and school. As the political situation has stabilized, and the 25 natural volcanoes have become more dormant, the area is beginning to reconstruct itself. This was a pivotal trip allowing me to see a war-ravaged community with unemployment at near 66%, rebuild itself. Instrumental in involving myself in this community was my study of languages, specifically Spanish. Languages allow me to communicate closely with local people, and in addition, teach me different ways to express ideas and concepts.
谢谢！ (thank you)
Team Living and Giving, you may have done something good today.
Maybe you helped someone …. that shows you are a good person.
Uplifted a spirit with an encouraging word
Or motivated another person to finish the 5k (or a walk around the block!)
Picked out weeds from a garden, cleaned the dishes, drove someone to the airport.
Or maybe you even flew across the world to volunteer!
You might have started a company, served as mayor, or fundraised $10,000 for a nonprofit.
But in all the good we do… there is one thing we know for sure…
Stay tuned to find out!