Support....Others, Community, and Your Well-Being. Part 1 of 4.
Altruism in the Webster's Dictionary is the unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others. Research has shown the motivation behind altruism does matter in outcomes. In addition, it is well-documented that altruistic acts do not only benefit the recipient but also positively impact the well-being of the giver. They provide increased social connection, increased physical and cognitive activity, and have been shown to lower blood pressure. This pandemic presents ample opportunity to help others in a variety of ways. The next 4 blogs will be dedicated to nonprofits in the DC area committed to doing good in our community. It was so inspirational to talk to these leaders who have been hard at work during this pandemic.
Part 1: Jerad Speigel, Founder, Board Member of Boost Others
Part 2: Jeff Franco, Director of The Sorkin Center For Nonprofit Governance, Compass
Part 3: Sally Sagarese, Sewing Advisor at Supply Love
Part 4: Lynne O'Brien, Founder of Line In the Sand
Jerad Speigel, entrepreneur at heart and founder of Boost Others, started this nonprofit in October 2019 with the understanding that "you can't help everyone...but you've got to help someone" (taken from the home page of the website). As an individual, Jerad ruminates about the state of our society, what kind of society we should live in, and what each of us are doing to create this just society. Many nonprofits focus on the larger world, but Jerad explains that he wanted to create something that was about taking care of the needs of neighbors within our communities. Boost Others gets vetted requests for assistance in Fairfax County and supports these requests within 24 hours.
Q & A:
Mission: Peer to peer giving to meet the needs of our neighbors.
Inspiration to Start: The idea behind Boost Others is really that we need to take care of others in our own backyard. Some of the wealthiest parts of our country have people living in poverty a half mile away. Some of these families are new to our country, and this is their exposure to America. We wanted to help these vulnerable communities not fall through the cracks. Health care and schools are not always satisfying the needs at hand and so we wanted to be part of this national narrative. Often people say they don't know how to help or ask if what they are giving is actually helping someone. The staff at these Title I schools are angels and working so hard to support these students who live in poverty. Some of these schools have 95% below the poverty line and 20% unaccompanied minors. Sometimes there are multiple families all living within one single family apartment. Each room can be rented to very different families so you can have two 12 year old girls locked in one room waiting for their parents to come back from work while another room can have two 26 year old men drinking. Food security, safety, shelter and support are basic needs for these families. We wanted to be the safety net...the helper of the last resort when other avenues and resources had been exhausted. Sometimes businesses can put out a mission statement and then pass on opportunities because they don't fit. We wanted it to be okay to be a little messier than that. So if there are 3 children at a school who can't see and it is affecting their education, we can bring an optometrist in. We have given ourself the option to address very different needs, and are constantly pivoting.
Observations During This Pandemic: The needs the last few months have been more primary. It has gone from needing glasses to needing food. This pandemic has disproportionately affected people by socioeconomic lines and racial lines. Our goal has been to scale up but not get overwhelmed. Our true north has always been that we are the last resort. On the front end of this for the first 8 weeks, we supplied tens of thousands of dollars of food. But ultimately we are an organization that wants to triage these problems to the correct people so ultimately we handed it over to the food people who know how to do this. We were just filling a need on the front end when the food systems were overwhelmed. We have also supplied thousands of diapers and provided zoom calls to connect families with services they need but cannot go currently to get them.
Challenges During This Pandemic: The needs were like a wave. It was dangerous to go to people's homes so we needed to change the mode of delivery. Social workers at these Title I schools work very hard. School became the delivery point to help us distribute food.
Opportunities During This Pandemic: The pandemic has been an opportunity for institutions to participate in their communities. Companies and schools can assist their members who are looking for ways to do something to help with Covid. The psychology around a pandemic is that we all feel victimized by the changes it is producing in our lives. We can harness the good that employees want to do by giving back and participating; this helps to provide a positive impact back to the employees as well.
Thank you to Jerad for the inspiration!
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