Finding Great Ways to do Good Work

What happens when good intentions are infused with passion and imagination?

I thought of that this morning as I read an article in the New York Times about a rabbi in Atlanta who used a $5,000 contribution (from a donor who wants to remain anonymous) to open a gemach to provide confidential, no-cost loans to members of the community.

Such commitment to make a difference is inspiring. And a powerful force.

Just a few years ago, a TiVo computer program developed Kiva, an online service to connect donors in developed countries with entrepreneurs in third world countries. In 2005, the organization issued its first seven loans, totaling $3,500. Since then, Kiva provided microloans to 685,000 entrepreneurs (80% of whom are women).

And it’s not just small loans that can make a difference.

In 2002, a San Francisco educator teamed up with a local author to find a way to help overburdened teachers connect with concerned creative professionals to inspire students learn to read and write. Today, 826 Valencia helps more than 6,000 San Francisco students … and seven additional chapters have been launched in cities across the country.

Nor is it just in Atlanta, San Francisco or New York, but all over the country. Consider some of the more innovative local models of assistance and support.

Harvesters BackSnack Program provides backpacks of food to low-income children for the weekend, to combat weekend hunger. Launched in 2004 with 30 students, the program now serves more than 15,000 students each week.
Kansas City’s Medicine Cabinet was started in 2003 by a group of healthcare professionals formerly affiliated with Baptist and Trinity Lutheran hospitals who wanted a way to meet medical needs for which funding is typically not available. The group didn't want to create more bricks and mortar, and today works through nine agencies with a combined nineteen intake sites across the metropolitan area.
The Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association was founded in 1998 by a brand new, energetic foster parent who found out first-hand the kinds of support that was needed. From those humble beginnings, the organization has grown to be a powerful force, both in terms of its advocacy for and support of children in the foster care system.

These are just a few of many available examples. And the efforts of each are amplified by a growing cadre of volunteers and supporters who share an interest in and commitment to their mission.

I’m proud to be a part of those efforts, personally and professionally.

Because, when good intentions are infused with passion and imagination, we can change the world!