Several months ago, I was inspired to start a mission of giving. It needed a name which would reflect my own personal style. Thus was born BeachBum Philanthropy (we hope you will ‘like’ us on Facebook).
My sister was so excited by the project that she funded the initial wave of giving by sharing a generous portion of her annual bonus with members of our family.
The competition (we were judged on creativity and joy created) brought out the best in all of us. As my stepmother Aline says: “It’s funny, when you go out each day with the intention to ‘give’ something, the opportunities just show up!”
It’s become an adventure discovering ways to give back. Instead of writing impersonal checks to the major players of the non-profit world, we have all intentionally sought out grassroots causes and people.
- the very first day of giving helped raise money for a young man with disabilities purchase a special bike so he could ride with his family
- when Powerball was near $600 million, we drove around giving out tickets to people, including the owner of a small dance studio (who was hosting a car wash to raise money for much-needed equipment)
- donations of food, first-aid supplies and diapers to various homeless shelters
To my knowledge, the largest single individual donation has been under $100 (while total giving is at nearly $2000). That means we’ve been able to help in plenty of small ways. Many days saw donations of our time, with zero investment of cash.
One of my favorites is a gift that will keep on giving all summer long.
As a family, we decided to buy several extra tomato plants this year. Three of them reside on our back deck, while the others are cared for at local shelters so that they can grow delicious fresh vegetables on their own.
It’s a minimal investment, and the rewards are huge: healthy food, a feeling of pride among those who care for the plants and, for us, knowing that we’ve helped empower these people to be part of their own communities (even if they are currently housed in a shelter).
This blog is not meant to be boastful in any way. As Bob Seger sang in “Feel Like a Number”: we are “like a tiny blade of grass in a great big field.”
I am writing this to show just how easy it can be to add value to our communities. We have intentionally set out on a path to help as many ‘real people’ as possible.
There is nothing wrong with the super-giant non-profits of the world. At some level, they all do amazing work. They help people, and that is a beautiful thing.
I simply prefer seeing, in an instant, a smile on the face of a person we’ve helped.
No bureaucracy. No red tape. No CEO making half a million dollars per year.
Just a handful of real people doing their best to put some good energy out there, every day.
There’s nothing like turning to the senior citizen in line behind you and saying “When I left the house I told myself I was going to do something for someone today…I hope you’ll let me pay for your groceries.”
As often as we can, do things anonymously. Most recently, I got to share a donation which a dear friend had entrusted to me. A local restaurant shares the same name as her son. We used the money to purchase small denomination gift certificates. The waitstaff, deputized as BeachBum Ambassadors, were asked to use them in situations they felt were most appropriate. They were overjoyed to do so! The recipients will only know that ‘The BeachBums’ care about them.
Bottom line: this is the most rewarding journey I’ve enjoyed in my life.
I have seen smiles. I’ve watched tears. I’ve received some of the warmest, most heartfelt hugs you can imagine…and it makes me want to do more, every day.
It doesn’t matter how you say it, giving is a great game…please play it!