A Challenge Received…A Challenge in Return

This pail is the current rage in America. But, this pail symbolizes more than that: there is a lot we can do to fill that bucket for those in need.

It finally happened.

I received the challenge to pour a bucket of ice-cold water over my head. I would humbly accept the challenge, but there’s a little problem…

There’s no one to videotape it and no one to pour the bucket over my head.

So, I have to be creative here.

In a perfect scenario, not only would I accept getting doused with cold water…I would also donate as well. I believe in helping out when I am able to.

I don’t see why everyone and their mammas are up in arms over how to do this. There is no right or wrong way to bring awareness by “paying it forward” by doing something fun and show support, or by writing a check.

I do have a problem with those who say “just donate” and dismiss the “silly notion of pouring water over your head.” You are missing the big picture here. If someone or a group came up to you and asked you for a donation, do you just donate and not ask questions? Do you want to know more about why you are being asked to help out?

“Cutting a check” don’t mean squat these days. Your money has little value, if you’re just handing it over. Neither is wishing that they go away and never ask you again.

I know.  I serve on the community leadership board for my local American Diabetes Association of Iowa chapter

I am also a volunteer.

I am also a person living with diabetes. I recently marked 20 years living with a disease that will ultimately end my life. But…I’m not dead yet!

For several years, I have quietly asked for support for my organization in aiding programs like Diabetes Busters, to educate the community about what diabetes is, and its effect. More importantly, beyond funding diabetes research at the University of Iowa, we are here to support people who live with diabetes and those who are impacted by it.

Many of the people I’ve tried to reach out to in the past, and today, have no interest in supporting me in my walk, bike ride, or other programs we do at ADA. That’s unfortunate, but I can’t dwell on that. Most of them have never dealt with diabetes…and some are in denial of it.

For the ones who have reached out, I am forever grateful.

This is a picture of volunteers who helped teach the Diabetes Busters class to 4th graders at Shuler Elementary. Your support and donations help programs like this reach not only students, but to parents as well.
This is a picture of volunteers who helped teach the Diabetes Busters class to 4th graders at Shuler Elementary. Your support and donations help programs like this reach not only students, but to parents as well.

Here is what many of you do not understand about non-profits organizations (NPO): they have changed their approach when it comes to soliciting donations.  In the past, a NPO walks up to a company or a person and ask for a donation, and sometimes never explain what that donation will fund or sustain. Since the 2008 recession, individuals, companies, and potential sponsors have become more discriminate in handing out cash to organizations. They are looking to donate based on what their employees want, how do their values align, and does it make the bigger impact for the community as a whole.

It’s the bottom line, stupid.

So, non-profits had to change their game plan. Money is not the first thing we ask for anymore. We’re going to tell you what we do, what our mission is, what programs we have to serve the community, and how we can help you achieve the bottom line, if you are a company, or how to make better lifestyle choices if you are an individual.

If we’re lucky, you’ll be the one asking “how can I donate?” or “how can I help?”

Everyone’s friend and my brother from another mother, Phil, came across this piece of news Friday, courtesy of Huffington Post. Government funding for medical research continues to be slashed, thus putting more pressure on NPOs like ALS, the National MS Society, and others find new ways to raise money to assist researchers in finding new medicines or cures, and to sustain the programs in place to continue supporting those who need it. From ALS patients to school children in Ferguson, Missouri, who missed out on several days of school, and as a result, couldn’t receive school breakfast and lunch.

Funny how we miss doing the real positive things, because all we ever talk about is how bad things are in this world.

There is need everywhere. There is no sense in being a jerk and going “I’m refusing to give to ALS”, or go “Why don’t just donate and stop with this silly bucket deal.” That’s your prerogative, but you better damn well give your money to something you care about…and not sit on your ass lecturing people about it.

All it takes is knocking on the door and asking “how can I help?” Those words mean more to people than you know.

As much as I want to get doused with water (and I still do), I have electronically donated $25 to the ALS Association, in honor of Phil Hibbard.* Phil is the father of my college classmate, Gina Hibbard Brown. Over the winter, Phil was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The disease, in layman’s terms, shut down your muscles and motor skills. It paralyzes the body, leaving you unable to speak when you want to speak, write, play, or do anything.

I don’t have $100. I’m unemployed. I spend most of my days applying for jobs and volunteering, which people know me more for the latter here in Des Moines. As I said at the beginning, if I am able, I’ll do what I can to help. $25 isn’t much, but you just made a small impact in a big way.

All that I ask in return is that you please consider supporting me in my upcoming walk in September, or show support in the efforts of the ADA here in Iowa. Any small gesture I’ll take with open arms: by money or volunteering.

Secondly, I am not going to challenge a certain person to get wet. I’m going to change this up a bit, if you don’t mind.

The challenge I have is two-fold…for all of us.

If you want to do the Ice Bucket Challenge, please do it…if you want to participate and spread awareness. Awareness is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal. People need information and education to understand what’s going on, why it’s going on, and how it affects all of us.

The other part of my challenge is this: there are organizations in your community, be it health-related, environment, neighborhoods, and others, that need just as much support as ALS is receiving, and what Susan G. Komen has traditionally gotten.

  • If you want to give money, that’s fine, but we want you to understand and learn how your donation can provide services. Don’t just write a check…learn how it will help people.
  • If you can’t afford to donate but want to help out, call an organization, or stop by one. All of have a skill that NPOs need: marketing, accounting, labor, et cetera. Offer to use those skills in any way. It takes one person, not 10,000 or a 1,000, but one person to walk in and say “I would like to help.” It makes a difference.
  • If there is someone you know who is in need, hook them up with an organization. You may not know it, but you could end up being the person who saved their lives and restore hope in their lives.

The main goal is “pay it forward”. We don’t do enough of it because we are such a jaded society. Even if something good is taking place, people find ways to be haters. Don’t be a hater. We ain’t got time for that hot mess. 

My challenge is for us to do better…no matter how you do it.

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