Category Archives: Philanthropy

My Volunteer Story with North Texas Food Bank

In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 19-25, 2020), the organization I’m volunteering at—North Texas Food Bank (NTFB)—has asked us to share our own volunteer story of why we chose to volunteer with NTFB and about being a virtual volunteer as a Social Media Ambassador.

Founded in 1982, the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) is a nonprofit hunger relief organization that distributes donated, purchased and prepared foods through a network of more than 200 Partner Agencies in 13 counties.

My volunteer story with the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) started in early spring 2019 when my company hosted a canned food drive. Several of my colleagues and I volunteered to help organize the food items that employees at our company donated. During this period of collecting the food items, I learned that one of my coworkers received help from NTFB at a time when she really needed it. This touched me deeply and I knew I had to get involved and volunteer to help NTFB throughout the year.

I was so happy to learn about the NTFB’s Social Media Ambassador program since going to volunteer in person would not work for me. Because I have several social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as my own blog and official website), I knew I could help spread the word on social media about hunger and North Texas Food Bank’s mission to feed food insecure children, families, and seniors in the North Texas community.

I’m passionate about issues related to children, poverty, and hunger. April 2020 marks 40 years that my family and I have been in the U.S. Ten years ago, I made a personal pledge to give back and encourage others to volunteer their time and donate money to worthwhile causes.

My life’s journey has been marked by challenges. These hardships have served as important life lessons. They keep me humble and remind me to give thanks, give back, help others, not complain, and be mindful that no matter how bad I think my problem or situation is in life, there is always someone who is much worse off than me, and who would give anything to trade places with me.

I give (my time and money) not because I’m a saint (far from it) or because I want the recognition (I don’t), but because I know what it feels like to struggle. Every time I give, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be alive, healthy, and living in America [read my story about the significance of April 30th and escaping from Vietnam].

I love this quote from the book, Ego Is the Enemy:

“Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you. The cumulative effect this would have over time would be profound.” -Ryan Holiday

Finally, as a father and parent to a soon-to-be six year old girl, my hope is that, through watching her daddy and mommy help others, that she, too, would do the same. There is, perhaps, no greater honor or success as a parent than to raise a child to be happy, kind, compassionate, helpful, and generous.

“Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.’” (Mark 12:41-44, New Living Translation)

Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.
Leadership Development Advisor

Why Philanthropy Is Important to Me

Hands holding letters spelling words | Credit: John Rensten
Hands holding letters spelling words | Credit: John Rensten

Many long-time readers of WorkplacePsychology.Net know that I have a special place in my heart for philanthropy. I give because I know what it feels like to struggle. My life’s journey has been marked by challenges. These hardships have served as important life lessons. They keep me humble and remind me daily to give thanks, help others, not complain, and be mindful that no matter how big and successful I might become one day I’m never too big to help others.

People typically use the words philanthropy and charity interchangeably. Although both terms describe helping others and also giving money to help, there is an important difference.

“Charity is often thought to be helping someone or something right now by giving directly to solve the problem, not necessarily through financial contributions. It could be direct aid and is generally aimed toward the needy or suffering. Philanthropy, on the other hand, is love of humankind, the act of improving the situation of others through charitable aid or donations. Individuals also state that philanthropy in their opinion is long term, whereas charity is immediate and often short term in focus. . . . [A]ll of us have heard the adage that if you give a person a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach him to fish, he will eat for his entire life. Charity at its basic sense is giving the person a fish, whereas philanthropy is teaching the person to fish” (Dietlin, 2010, p. 5).

I am very thankful to be able to support three incredible non-profits:

charity: water brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. They raise awareness about the 1 billion people living without life’s most basic need, water. 100% of public donations go directly to fund clean water projects in developing countries. Here are two sobering facts:

▪ Diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. 43% of those deaths are children under five years old.

▪ Kids in developing countries spend 3+ hours each day collecting water instead of going to school.

Room to Read combats global poverty by improving educational opportunities for children and helping primary school children become lifelong readers. It does this by establishing libraries, improving school infrastructure, publishing local language children’s books and supporting reading and writing instruction through teacher training and material development.

Room to Read’s model focuses on transformation within schools in low-income countries during two time periods which are most critical in a child’s schooling: early primary school for literacy acquisition and secondary school for girls’ education. They work in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children and ensure girls can complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions (Room to Read, Press Kit).

Here’s a somber fact: 781 MILLION PEOPLE in the world are illiterate, about 16% of the world’s adults. Of the illiterate, 2/3 are women and girls!

The Navy SEAL Foundation offers support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Community and its families. The United States Navy’s Sea, Air and Land Teams, better known as the Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy’s principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command and United States Special Operations Command.

Did you know that Navy SEALs can spend up to 270 days away from their home each year in the most unforgiving environments and training at an unrelenting pace in order to maintain their ability to execute our nation’s toughest military missions?

“A SEAL’s state of readiness is directly linked to the health and resiliency of their family. Their overall well-being and ability to cope with uncertainty and lack of predictability have a huge impact on the warrior’s ability to remain focused in combat and in training. In their line of work, a SEAL’s ability to focus means the difference between life and death. Their family’s ability to draw from the strength of their support networks, and become resilient themselves, is essential for the preservation of family cohesion while their SEAL warrior is defending freedom across the globe” (Your Commitment Makes an Impact).

The Foundation helps “preserve the force and family by providing a comprehensive set of programs specifically designed to improve health and welfare, build and enhance resiliency, empower and educate their families, and provide critical support during times of illness, injury or loss. The challenges faced by SEALs and their families aren’t short lived – they are perpetual, ever-changing and unrelenting” (Your Commitment Makes an Impact).

One area I especially like and applaud is the educational programs and assistance the Navy SEAL Foundation provides to NSW service members in transition, and NSW dependent children. For instance, the Foundation helps pay for college and graduate school test preparation. They also offer tuition assistance to enlisted active-duty NSW service members. Finally, the Navy SEAL Foundation has scholarship opportunities available to NSW active duty service members, their spouses and dependent children, as well children of qualifying former NSW service members (Educational Programs: Education and Motivation).

Every time I give, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be alive, healthy, and living in America (giving evokes gratitude). For those of you who do not know my story, here’s the short version: In 1979, when I was about 8 years old, my family and I escaped from Vietnam. We joined countless others and got onto a small vessel in search of a better life. Three days and four nights later, after outrunning Thai pirates and discarding a dead body, we found ourselves stranded at sea with little food and water remaining. By the grace of God, we were rescued and brought into a refugee camp on a tiny island called Galang (in Indonesia). After almost a year there, we were sponsored by my uncle to come to America. In the spring of 1980, more than one year after we left our homeland in Southeast Asia, my family and I set foot on American soil for the very first time.

My hope is that, by sharing about why I give, it will leave an impression on people reading this piece and inspire them to give too. As Suttie and Marsh’s article notes, “Giving is contagious. When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.”

I urge you to make a small, recurring monetary donation to one of the reputable charities listed on Charity Navigator. It does not need to be a large amount and the frequency does not need to be often. Start small and pick two months this year to donate. For example, you might donate $10 to charity X twice a year (June and December). Simple.

Read this page first, Charity Navigator — Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors.

Need more reasons to give? How about 5 ways giving is good for you?

Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.
Leadership + Talent Development Advisor

References

Charity Navigator — Overview. http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=628

Charity Navigator — Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors. http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=419#.VsAsQJMrKQU

charity: water — The 100% Model. https://www.charitywater.org/100percent/

charity: water — Why Water. http://www.charitywater.org/whywater/

Dietlin, L. M. (2010). Transformational Philanthropy: Entrepreneurs and Nonprofits. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Greater Good – 5 Ways Giving Is Good for You. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you

Navy SEAL Foundation. http://www.navysealfoundation.org/

Room to Read — Press Kit. Quick Fact Sheet. http://www.roomtoread.org/document.doc?id=180

Room to Read — Press Kit. http://www.roomtoread.org/PressKit