For this Blog Action Day post, I decided to explore a bit of the poverty that flourishes right here in my own country. Being the “richest” (I use this term loosely, as we are swimming in trillions of dollars of debt right at the moment) nation in the world, it’s hard to fathom our own citizens being unable to enjoy seemingly ordinary things like education, healthcare, clothing, or even food. According to the 2007 Census Bureau numbers, in 2007, 37.3 million people were in poverty, up from 36.5 million in 2006. Certainly that number can be expected to climb, given our current economic situation. When you look at these figures, what pops into my mind is that common airplane speech we get at the beginning of a flight: “Help yourself, then help the others around you.” It makes sense in this case, too.
For my part as a solopreneur, I feel like if I am on solid footing, I’m both able and willing to help those around me. During the year, I speak at certain events free of charge, I donate to a few organizations I love supporting, I donate material goods whenever possible, plus, I promote volunteerism in my home and community. So for the common business person, are these things you can do, even when monetary resources are scarce? Of course you can, and here are some ideas:
- Allocate a portion or donation of sales each year to a charity you feel promotes the growth of other fellow entrepreneurs. Here is a link to a great to a blog post on TechCrunch on some that help here and around the world.
- Empower youth and adult alike to learn. Donate books, magazines, software, computers and other technology whenever you can.”I think by far the most important bill in our whole code, is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness… The tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.”
- Become a mentor to a youth or adult in need and empower them to strive for a better life. Sounds simple, right? The fact is most people want to be encouraged, inspired, and told, “You can do it.” Share your knowledge and you are in fact sharing your resources. My husband is a volunteer tutor at a local highschool. Think his help will push someone to go further? I do.
- Help people get on their feet by volunteering in a place like Dress For Success and if you can’t work there, at least consider contributing or taking up a collection of professional clothing they can distribute. By outfitting people with the right clothes and interviewing tools, they help people find employment and opportunities that might ordinarly be out of reach.
- Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. I cannot stress this enough. When you share yourself in your community, you BUILD your community and are helping to foster the next generation of volunteers behind you. It’s not enough to write a check; get your hands dirty and do this with an open heart. It’s not enough to just listen and watch, you have to get busy and sometimes it means using your own personal time to help others.
While I don’t expect poverty to disappear on my watch, I do expect to make an impact on the way things are in my generation and help in ways I know I can. Search yourself and your company and see where you can, too.