Posts Tagged ‘community service’

How Not to Do Anything: An Expert Guide – How Not to Be a Force for Positive Change in Your Community

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016
Image Credit: http://bit.ly/2dGIYVQ

Image Credit: http://bit.ly/2dGIYVQ

No less venerable an American than Mohammed Ali once said, “Service to others is the payment you make for your space here on Earth.” That’s one way to look at it. “I never asked to be born; I don’t owe nobody shit,” is another (suggested by the rap duo Das Racist in their song, “I Don’t Owe Nobody Shit”). Whether your views on the subject of community service are closer to one or the other aforementioned, or completely different, chances are that you will not be doing much volunteering in the near (or distant) future. After all, volunteering, like visiting a museum or voting, is one of those things that nearly everyone shares a deep belief in doing, but seldom actually does.

As anyone who’s ever done some volunteering can tell you, it is generally dull, disheartening, and thankless work (since you don’t get paid to do it, duh). Unfortunately for breast cancer researchers and homeless people, even the most heartfelt gratitude of the nicest volunteer coordinator you’ll ever meet doesn’t really compare to the material satisfaction of cashing a check and then buying some clothing or electronics. Moreover, volunteering can be incredibly depressing, since the causes that require volunteers tend to be both pretty dire and underserviced. And only some people (do-gooders, masochists) enjoy that demoralizing tang.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you don’t have to change much of anything in order not to be a force for good in your community. But just in case you dabble in working for free, here are some alternative choices. When you want to see something intensely dispiriting, watch the new Holocaust movie, or read the World section of the newspaper. When you’re asked to lend a hand, inform your implorer that you’re late for your weekly nursing home tea time with Granny; that should quiet them up, and maybe even get you some encouragement, which is nice even if undeserved. And when you feel like a worthless, lazy waste of space, turn on some partisan cable news: you’ll find ample evidence of your own value as a person, in the form of commentators and politicians, whose central goals on this Earth seem to be to obtain the maximum number of fake tans and to terrify everyone else. You never even bother the neighbors.

By Aaron Brown


Aaron Brown was one of the Campus Clipper’s publishing interns, who wrote an e-book “How Not To Do Anything: An Expert Guide.” If you like Aaron’s writing, follow our blog for more chapters from his e-book. We have the most talented interns ever and we’re so proud of them! For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during last year’s Welcome Week.

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Giving Back: Be Prepared

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

 

Now that you have recognized your strengths and passions, and you understand the importance of researching, we should discuss expectations and how to get started. Unless I have become the J.K. Rowling of the “how to” eBook world, which would be an awkward title, you are probably reading this alone. There is no fan club picking this up, so you are probably sitting at home and reading this because 1. I know you and made you, or 2. You have a personal interest in volunteering, but do not have an available organization or club to tell you step-by-step guide on options and expectations. Hopefully these tips will help you feel more comfortable, flexible, and prepared to begin serving in your community.

 

  1. Serving can be more than a soup kitchen
    Nothing is wrong with serving weekly at a soup kitchen. But why is this always in the movies as the most popular hit volunteering opportunity? There is so much more than that! Look back at your skills and personality traits and use those to serve. If you like building and creating with your hands, jump on a Habitat for Humanity project. If you’re artsy, offer to paint or create illustrations for a nonprofit. Love sports? Volunteer to be a children’s soccer coach for a season with children. The more interests you have, the more opportunities you have to serve.

    Don't be Barney Stinson and wait until mandated Community Service to volunteer locally.

  2. Be realistic with your wardrobe
    This should be very obvious. If you are working with children or teenagers, dress in a way that you would want your child to dress. It’s awkward for parents to meet a youth leader and have to worry about “where to look”. If volunteering with a professional organization, dress to impress, despite the fact that you’re not a staff member. If you love volunteering there and they’re hiring, who would they rather hire, an outside candidate or you? More likely than not it’s fine to wear a t-shirt and jeans. Just be smart.
  3. Commitment
    No fancy way to say it, it’s a pretty important trait so there is no three word combo like “commitment ceases conflict”, although that does sound good. When you find an organization you love, you will be on fire to serve. And hopefully when you go, you will enjoy your experience so much that you won’t want to leave. But don’t dive in too deep. Be realistic with your schedule, yet tactful. If you can volunteer once a week, awesome! If you can only commit to once a month, that’s fine too. As time passes you may feel like you’re missing out, and you will find a way to make time in your schedule. Like I stated in a previous article, if you volunteer somewhere you love, it won’t even feel like work.
  4. Practice Flexibility and Patience… what everyone loves to hear!
    That was sarcasm, if you didn’t realize, or is this the first sentence you have ever read by me? It’s preeettty common in my writing. As much as I would like to encourage you to volunteer in a position that you love, the fact of the matter is that specific position may not always be open. But don’t feel discouraged; instead try a different job. As always, you never know: but you might love it. If not, hopefully you can just get your foot in the door for other volunteering opportunities in the future. For example, at my church in Jersey I serve on Sundays helping with young children…like babies… with poop and stuff. It was not my first, or second choice, but I knew the church needed the help. Now not only do I love seeing the same little faces each week, but I’ve talked to others about different serving opportunities that I can use my talents for. And now I am helping with the social media aspect of the church. Because I was willing to help in one way and waited patiently, jumping at other volunteering opportunities, I am not only enjoying working with children but also assisting 140 characters at a time.

 

Awe isn't this such a precious picture of changing a diaper...ABSOLUTELY DECEITFUL...but I will spare you the horrifying details...

 

I hope that you feel a bit more prepared, not to change a diaper, that requires real life experience, but hopefully you feel open and ready to serve where ever you are placed! You are probably still wondering why I haven’t helped you connect with an organization or tips towards that. Well, keep reading.

 

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Samantha Bringas

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Giving Back: Research Organizations

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

In my opinion, working with kids is fun and not usually nerve wracking, so the most stressful step of deciding where to volunteer is the research process. Back in high school, volunteering was easy because teachers seemed to always have good suggestions about organizations, but now that you are out on your own, figuring out where to start can be stressful and confusing.

As I stated before, recognizing your strengths is a critical step towards volunteering, but put that on hold for a minute. Researching: this is THE most important step to volunteering, at least in my humble opinion that you should take, if you want to succeed, ever. Okay maybe not, but a step that most people forget is to research organizations before simply jumping in. We are constantly fed information all day long, what to wear, what to eat, and as much as we think we are rebels (which we clearly are not) we accept the norm. Don’t let this pattern apply to where you choose to volunteer. Research each organization. If you are clueless about where to start, just simply follow these steps to ensure that you will find a trustworthy company.

 

  1. Question Why
    Ever have someone come up to you on the streets of Manhattan asking if you are 21 in order to sign a petition? Of course you have! If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to lie every time, awkwardly responding with, “nahhhh sorry I’m twenty”, giving your best childlike smile and breaking away. So when a disaster strikes and a number pops up on the screen demanding your donation, put down your phone. Don’t you dare text a dollar amount to that number without researching first. Ask yourself, why? Why should I donate to you? Many people each year become victims to unreliable companies. Last summer CNN teamed up with the Tampa Bay Times in order to investigate “America’s Worst Charities”, charities that waste a huge percentage of their donations on wages and solicitors. During this investigation they discovered that many people were donating to the Kids Wish Network. At first glance you might think, “oh yes I heard of this, they send children to Disney blah blah”- No! That is Make-A-Wish Foundation. Many companies similar to the Kid Wish Network camouflage their name and purpose in order to sound identical to a more popular organization. After CNN posted this article many people who had donated to the Kids Wish Network started retaliating against the group. In the study, CNN realized that the Kids Wish Network only donated 3 cents of every dollar to the cause. This means that when you donate, only 3 percent of your donation goes toward helping children. Which leads me to the next tip.
  2. Question How Much
    When working with an organization you should know where your money is going. Don’t settle for a roundabout answer. Investigate the details of your contribution. Charity Navigator is a company created to assist with this issue. You are able to search for an organization, leaf through the charts and facts to find out where every cent of your donation goes. It even displays feedback from people who have donated to the specific cause and their experience with the company.
  3. Question How Often
    As important as it is to investigate the percentages, sometimes it is just as essential to watch how consistent a company is.  For example, the Red Cross gives about 90% of the donation towards their purpose, but they are not always consistent. After 9/11, the Red Cross was getting backlash from many contributors because the people realized that only one third of their donations were used for the victims in New York. Because of this backlash, the Red Cross made the decision in November 2011 to donate the whole amount to the cause. The issue with donating is, as a contributor you don’t always know what your money is specifically going to, but the positive note, in the Red Cross’ instance, is that the company is so large that it is always under close watch. In order to help eliminate this problem you can donate to specific companies that are based on a fixed amount or product.  For example, the popular One for One program with Toms or the $7 fixed donation at Sevenly. Most people have heard of Toms, but honestly, how many shoes do you need? Sevenly is an organization that sponsors different causes each week. They design t-shirts and posters for customers to grab, and with every purchase you make $7 is donated to the cause. Whether you spend $10 or $35, seven dollars is always donated.

 

If you can't decide on a style just pick a Grab Bag, 3 uniquely designed shirts from earlier causes. Select your size and the price is less than buying 2 shirts!

Obviously, it is vital to stay up-to-date with organizations and find one that fits your passion. Although we are all poor college students, we need clothes. So why not buy clothing with a purpose? Check out Sevenly today or sign up for weekly updates and support an organization that matches your passion! Remember, before you reach for your cash, debit card, or sign in to your PayPal account, ask “Why? How much? And How Often?”

Click here to learn about Sevenly and change up your wardrobe

 

Oh and I forgot to ask, where do YOU like to donate?

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Samantha Bringas

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Giving Back: Starting from Home

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

So you kept reading eh? Expecting me to list the best organizations that will help you change the world? Think I’m going to start with some statistic that is going to make you feel on fire for Cambodia? Well I’m not. Yes it is true that according to Compassion International for only $1.25 a day you could supply food, clean water, medical care, and education to a child in need, but I won’t bombard you with these facts, at least not right now.

Instead, let’s start from home. No really, start at home! Contrary to popular belief, we are not created to be alone. Independence will only get you so far in life. Yes, you can go out and get a job, stand out among the rest and work your way up the ladder, but in order to be truly successful you need community. Growing up you needed someone to guide you, but now that you’re an “adult”, you need friends to hold you accountable to your goals, build you up, and simply laugh with. Because of the mutual love and comfort you find in each other, these relationships cannot flourish without sacrifice.

So what better way to begin this journey of “giving back” than starting from home? You can’t learn to serve those around the world and strangers on the street until you learn to serve those you love (and sometimes can’t stand).

Here are some simple suggestions that will surely show you care:

  1. Give Housework Help
    When you live with someone, you start picking up on their “telltale signs” of a good or bad day. You can feel their emotions vibrate through the floorboards into your room. You just know. So on those days when their door is shutting you out, or they burst through yours crying about the stresses of a new job, give a helping hand. After sitting with them listening to their cries, and affirming that, “Yes, your boss is a jerk, no, they don’t deserve you”, take a moment to think of how you can help. Maybe the dishes are piling up and it’s their day to do them. Follow the Nike cliché and “just do it”. They may or may not notice, but that’s not the point. The point is you showed a little love to the person you spend every day with.
  2. Bring Friends Food
    Why do people say, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” when we all know it’s actually pizza, or that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, when in reality the stomach is the key to every person’s soul? Sure we’re all poor students, but if just a few extra bucks can make your roommate’s whole day, why not “just do it”? I noticed the importance of this the other week when I ordered some Thai food to be delivered to my friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. I didn’t realize the portions would be so large, and there was no way I was gunna carry that back to Jersey. I offhandedly offered it to my friend and her eyes widened as she responded, “YES! That will be my lunch for tomorrow.” Finally I realized the importance of food to us struggling younglings in the city. So the next time you order from seamless.com or browse through all the meal coupons on the Campus Clipper, keep your friends in mind!

    If your roommate ever snaps at you, check around the room for a coupon...or unopened bag of chips...

  3. Being Sick Sucks
    Let’s just stop and contemplate all the places you touch on a daily basis. Just thinking about the subway alone is enough to make me gag. In the fast-paced rush of the city, we just don’t have time to get sick! Most of the time we don’t even have a chance to sit down to eat a healthy meal. Yet every winter we put off our flu shots and brave the cold. Even if you don’t catch anything, there’s a chance that one of your roommates will. Before you routinely run out the door, take a moment to check on the people you live with. More likely than not they don’t actually need anything, but knowing that someone is willing to take care of them is comfort enough. Maybe you’re not much of a cook, but opening a can of soup and popping it in the microwave can be exhausting for someone who’s sick with the flu. Doing this will only take two minutes, but showing that you care makes the heart happy, and healthy.
  4. Show Active Appreciation
    Hopefully, you live with someone who helps keep the place clean, or gives you a text while waiting in line at Starbucks asking what you want. (If not, maybe you could just slide this article underneath their door). Regardless, the most important component of keeping a relationship strong is the act of showing appreciation. So when they sacrifice for you don’t just say “thank you”. Verbally express appreciation for your roomie. It doesn’t need to be a sob fest, unless that’s what they need, (refer back to the girl in tip 1), but showing appreciation for each other will help calm those inevitable crazy days that come with a shared living space.

 

Sometimes all you need in a city full of pushy grimacing faces is a strong and joyful relationship with your house buds. But as I stated before, the act of helping only begins here. Now we continue onto serving outside.

 

If my short snippet about Compassion International did in fact interest you, you can find more information here: http://www.compassion.com

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Samantha Bringas

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

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Giving Back When You’re a Poor College Student

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

The worst type of guilt trip is the one that slowly layers ever so sweetly on your shoulders piling more and more until it’s all you can think about. When Natural disasters strike, we see the hotline number at the bottom of our TV screens and immediately feel the burden to donate, but instead click past the channel, not wanting the weight of feeling pressured. Or those dang commercials, where the SAME SONG whispers through the speakers, triggering your memory. At first you don’t remember what it’s for but then BAM, puppy eyes stare from behind the bars of their cages begging to be adopted. “With just one dollar, you can…”- change the channel. Between the struggle of scavenging through your couch –if you’re lucky to have one– for change to buy textbooks, or your 5th day in a row of mac and cheese dinners, it’s easy to ignore the ads.

"In the arrrmss of an annngel"

 

Yet, as often as we apathetically stroll by the ads on the subway or avoid the homeless begging between transfers, there is a guilty feeling that creeps into our souls.

 

As a former college student, I know how easy it is to dismiss these feelings. Trust me, I have used every excuse in the book. Speaking of books, “yeah I don’t have any money to give bro, sorry, I need to save for text books…ya know, English major and all.” Oh and if you don’t think that worked, I was a student finishing up college AND getting married mid-semester. Forming excuses based on money and time can be very easy. However even as these excuses grew, my desire to help people pushed through and emerged.

 

So I did something about it.

 

I started with the little things, like helping my mom around the house, to gradually getting involved in different groups mentoring young girls. As my giving grew, my passions grew stronger and expanded to different fields. I began to experience life in a different way, seeing it from a different viewpoint and understanding its true meaning.

 

My cute students and me in Haiti circa 2009. Being an adult, clearly...

I am writing this eBook with the hopes of encouraging you to be open to a new way of life. A life not focused on the little aspect, called “me”, but focused instead on the good of mankind. It can seem to be overwhelming at first, but I assure you that with a little direction, and self-actualization, you can become involved in your community and experience a greater life than you ever expected.

 

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Samantha Bringas

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

 

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