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Charity Time

For whatever reason, many of us tend to make our charitable donations toward year end. It’s that way for us, and this was the week our donations were sent in. I’d like to share the top charities I’ve tried to support.

First is Perkins School For The Blind. This has been a regular on my list for some time, and I’d like to share their remarkable story with you. From their website: “The rich history of Perkins began with its founding over 175 years ago as the first school for the blind in the United States. Within a few short years, Perkins became known for its effective instructional techniques, including teaching Laura Bridgman, the first known deafblind person to be educated. Later, a much more famous student, Helen Keller, came to Perkins on her way to breaking down barriers and perceptions about what people who are blind or deafblind can accomplish.”

Next, New England Center For Homeless Vets. Their mission is spelled out on their site : “The Mission of the New England Center for Homeless Veterans is to extend a helping hand to homeless men and women veterans who are addressing the challenges of: addiction, trauma, severe and persistent mental illness, and/or unemployment, and who will commit themselves to sobriety, non-violence, and working for personal change. We are recognized as one of the most effective private veteran’s transition programs in the country.”
In addition to a monetary donation, I’ve made a habit of turning up there toward year end and dropping off clothes and a few cases of coffee. It’s heartwarming to see the people that are being helped to get back on their feet. The center isn’t a hand out, it’s education and training to help these men get back into the mainstream. They do a great job.

Dr. Means (who used to be my wife’s primary care doctor) went two steps beyond “put your money where your mouth is.” She gave up her regular medical practice to found this charity. From her web site: Roseanna H. Means, MD founded Women of Means in 1999 “to improve the lives of women who are homeless or marginally housed through quality health care, education and advocacy.”
From 1990-1998, Dr. Roseanna Means, a practicing Internist in the Boston area, worked for a program that operates health clinics for the homeless. She observed that homeless women were underrepresented at the clinics and learned that using traditional health care access venues, even when staffed by doctors trained in caring for the homeless, is overwhelming for women impaired by exhaustion, mental illness and fear. Consequently Dr. Means founded Women of Means, sending volunteer physicians into shelters to provide care where the women feel safest.

Last, Abby’s House. “Abby’s House is a multi-service, non-profit organization in Worcester, Massachusetts that serves homeless and battered women and children. Founded in 1976 by a group of activists led by Annette Rafferty, Abby’s House has helped thousands of women and children make their way out of the chaos of homelessness.”
We’ve donated to Abby’s House for such a long time, I don’t recall how they came to our attention. We get an occasional newsletter and know they are doing some excellent work.

Do you notice the common theme here? All these charities are local, I can drive to them in 30 minutes or so, and I feel that I can visit to see the good our money is doing. Also, they help people directly. I know there are medical charities doing research and they need money as well, they just don’t make the top few I’ll share today.

If you are looking to add a charity to your donation list this year, please consider one of the above. Charity is a very personal thing for each of us, I think we donate to the ones that touch our heart a certain way. I was careful to not include some others such as religious organizations, my high school, or the local public radio station. I donate to those as well, but if you live in California do you really care to donate to my high school in NYC?

Let me know how you decide where to donate. Do you spread the wealth, donating to a dozen or more with smaller amounts, or a limited few who get a larger check? Either way, ’tis the season to give.

  • Elle December 17, 2010, 9:28 am

    I am teary eyed from reading about the “Women of Means” charity in particular. To learn of someone like Dr. Means inspires. Wishing peace today for all homeless, somehow. Nice job, Joe.

  • JOE December 17, 2010, 9:44 am

    Thanks for the note, Elle. Me as well, I think when someone goes this far for a cause, they deserve my utmost respect and support. As she’s local, and her fundraising efforts minimal, I always have this fantasy that someone with deep pockets happens across my blog (I posted a feature article some time back as well) and decides to send her a nice check. Any of my readers have a line to Oprah?
    Best wishes to you for the new year.

  • Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer December 18, 2010, 8:54 am

    It’s a list of wonderful charities. Right now, I’m paying off debt so my giving is limited. Other than my church, I donated to Feeding America. Eliminating hunger in the US is my personal cause.

  • JOE December 18, 2010, 9:08 am

    Thanks, Kay. The fact that there still are hungry in this country is appalling. One of the richest countries in the world, we are going to be judged on how we treat our own less fortunate.

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