Non-Traditional Ways to Give

Stephen Geri Non TraditionalThe idea of philanthropy, giving back or volunteering of any sorts typically revolves around monetary donations. Anyone with a passion to give back should be open to the various ways and opportunities charity presents, even if they stray from traditional ideas. Here are a few innovative ways you can get involved.

Clothing Donations

Thrift stores are charitable non-profits that aim to provide affordable, gently used clothing to local communities. The fashion industry is constantly raising it’s prices, lowering the amount of people who can afford new items to their wardrobe. On top of that, many can’t afford brand new items. That’s why thrift stores are entirely necessary to providing clothing in your community. If you have items in your closet that you haven’t worn in months, or years even, consider donating your clothing to a thrift or consignment shop in your area. Not only will the clothing you donate go to those who can’t afford items elsewhere, but thrift stores give percentages of their revenue to supporting intellectual disabilities as well as the homeless.

Solve Community Problem

You don’t have to own or even be part of a non-profit organization to make a difference in your community. If you see an issue arise or know of a problem, find ways to solve it. Having the right connections in your community can bring a team together. Reach out to build your team through flyers and advertising. Let them know what the issue is, when you plan to do something about it and most importantly how you need their help. Together, you and your community can combat a local issue for a better, brighter community.

Host a Benefit

If there is a cause or issue you are passionate about, host a benefit or fundraiser and donate to that cause. Not only will this help the cause financially, but it will take it a step further by spreading awareness. Often the word of mouth is a great way to get others to care about a cause. This opens up the opportunity for so many people to give back, beyond just yourself. Use this time to show people what you care about and how they can get involved. 

Volunteer Your Skills

Your community can utilize your skills and knowledge. If you have a particular talent, business or craft, volunteer that in any way you can think of. If you have a landscaping business, offer those services to the elderly in your community or to those who don’t have the ability to take care of their exterior. Another skillset that any community can use is painters. Whether you paint homes, offices or other buildings in your community, make your community look clean with a fresh coat of paint. There are so many more skills and opportunities to give back to your community.

Giving back to your community doesn’t have to be at all conventional. Any idea you have to give back, your community will appreciate. Time goes beyond money. Your community will be a better place if one person acts to make a difference.

Charity Spotlight: CAST for Kids

Stephen Geri CAST

One of my favorite ways to spend time with my grandchildren is by taking them fishing on the lake. The look on my grandchildren’s face when they feel the strike of a largemouth bass is something I will never get sick of. Sadly, there are so many children across the country who will never get to experience that feeling for a number of reasons. The CAST (Catch A Special Thrill) for Kids Foundation is a nonprofit that started in 1991 with the vision of pairing avid fisherman with children who have disabilities in an effort to introduce those children to the excitement of fishing. The nonprofit has since grown into three programs: CAST for Kids, Take a Warrior Fishing, and Fishing for Kids.

CAST for Kids

CAST for Kids is the flagship program of the foundation with the goal of teaching kids the basics of fishing. Events are hosted at a local body of water where participants are outfitted with a rod, t-shirt, hat, and tackle box. Each participant is then paired with an experienced volunteer and accompanied on the boat with a parent or guardian. After a morning on the lake, the participants are treated to a BBQ lunch and an awards ceremony. Along with exposing children to the sport of fishing, the program seeks to educate all participants, parents, sportsmen, and volunteers to the capabilities of children with disabilities.

Fishing Kids

Established in 1996, the Fishing Kids program is built around the slogan, “Getting more kids fishing more often.” The events are held for anywhere between 300-800 urban youth ranging in age from 5-14. Every participant receives a t-shirt and a rod & reel combo to keep. The kids are broken up into groups and fish for roughly an hour from the shore with an instructor. There are four main goals to the program:

  1. Provide a meaningful and enjoyable fishing opportunity to local youth
  2. Promote fishing as an alternative leisure activity
  3. Offer education elements such as angler ethics, fish identification, and water safety to local youth
  4. Develop skills that provide a lifelong hobby

Take a Warrior Fishing

The newest of the three programs, Take a Warrior Fishing, was established in 2011. It was developed to support military personnel, specifically those assigned to Warrior Transition Commands, and their families. Events are held annually at waterways across the United States. TWF aims to support positive social interactions with the civilian world, increase family interaction, introduce outdoor recreation as a method of therapy, and empower veterans to advocate for positive self-growth and change.

CAST is always looking for new volunteers. If you are interested in hosting an event, volunteering as an instructor, or donating in some form, you can find more information here.


Spotlight: Corner Store’s Donation To The Children’s Hospital Of San Antonio

Spotlight- Corner Store’s Donation To The Children’s Hospital Of San Antonio

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s great to look back at some of the local San Antonio businesses that gave back to their communities. While we talked about a number of amazing Texas nonprofits, we did not talk about some of the incredible for-profit companies that gave back after raising money for an important cause. One such company is Corner Store, a Texas-based chain of grocery stores. Corner Store is known for its excellent customer service, and it turns out that it’s not too shabby on the community service front either.

Corner Store gave back in a big way this past summer after raising money from its dedicated customers earlier in the year. Corner Store’s customers purchased $1 and $5 Miracle Balloon icons in April of this year, and this summer, it added up. The company ended up donating more than $493,000 to the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. This is a 15 percent increase from the amount that Corner Store donated to Christus Santa Rosa Health System’s pediatric campus in 2015. This increase in donation is a testament to Corner Store’s success as well as its spirit of giving.

John Bel, the President of the Children’s hospital of San Antonio was extremely thankful for these funds. He stated that the fund would help to support Christus’ efforts toward providing world-class care to children in the San Antonio region. In this way, Corner Store contributed to the health of its region not only by selling fresh produce but also by donating money to an outstanding cause.

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio has long prioritized fundraising. In November of 2015, the hospital’s foundation had raised over $7 million through a capital campaign. The goal was to raise $80 million by the end of 2016, and it’s clear they have well surpassed that.

However, Bel has communicated that the continued transformation of Christus’ former City Centre campus into a new children’s hospital will require more funding. Funding is also necessary to expand the spectrum of pediatric care in San Antonio in the long run. Bel stated that philanthropy will be crucial for the future, adding that the hospital needed to raise between $200 million and $250 million by the end of 2022. Then, in November 2016, he stated that the endeavor could cost significantly more than he originally planned.

Corner Store did not stop at this donation. The company is continuing to help direct more funding to the children’s hospital and to similar facilities throughout the country. For example, Corner Store raised more than $2.1 million nationally during its 30-day campaign to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The money raised by Corner Store for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio will help the facility buy life-saving equipment, therapy services, charitable care and research. Ever since 1995, Corner Store has been a partner of CMN Hospitals. Over 22 years, it has raised funds for the facilities of these hospitals through a number of campaigns. The donations throughout these campaigns have totaled over $25 million.

Corner Store is dedicated to helping not only its customers, but the children’s hospitals in its community and nationwide. If you want to support a company that engages heavily in philanthropic efforts, Corner Store is the place to shop.

The 3 Legs of a Successful Mentoring Program

The 3 Legs of a Successful Mentoring Program

While running any mentoring program takes time and commitment, all to often there isn’t a comprehensive understanding of the core elements needed to ensure the mentoring program’s success. For a mentoring program to be truly effective it must have a stable foundation.

A three-side structure is arguably one of the most stable foundations known to man, as physics demands the force be divided equally wherever pressure is applied. However, as strong as a three-sided structure is, when one side is removed the structure collapses. One of the most effective mentoring-program models borrows from the strength of the three-sided structure, with there being three essentials to make the mentoring program a success.

Leg 1) Program Manager

Mentoring programs cannot run without a competent manager. While technological advancements provide companies with access to databases and even automation of some key administrative tasks, without someone capable steering the ship the program will eventually run aground.

A qualified program manager ensures continued support and will constantly provide program evaluation on effectiveness while being able to recommend improvements. Most importantly, a competent program manager will guide, encourage and support participants at both an individual and group level to ensures the organization and its participants receive the most benefit from the program.

Leg 2) Expertise

Even through it is a powerful means of achieving organizational objectives, a mentoring program is also a major investment for any organization, demanding considerable time from key members of its staff. As such, it stands to reason that a mentoring program using best-practices techniques, professional support and training will maximize return on investment.

Here there are two options:

1) Hire a program manager who possesses specific mentoring experience and expertise.
2) Provide outside support, guidance and resources for an inexperienced program manager.

Leg 3) Technology

Effective mentoring programs are coming to rely increasingly on new technologies to optimize success. When a program is broad in scope, or covers a wide geographical territory, technologies such as webinar access and eLearning software are essential. These technology permit mentoring programs to be accessible anytime by anyone, even in remote areas, and also allow participants to be matched up even in distance regions or countries. Whenever possible, these applications should be integrated to make access easy while optimizing the user experience.


Why a Two-Legged Model Falls Short:

The most crucial thing to realize is a successful mentoring program takes all three legs to work, and if you remove one leg your program will topple. Even worse, if two legs are removed your mentoring program will most likely never get off the ground. Consider these three examples:

Program Manager and Expertise:

If a mentoring program is not very large it may be possible to run the program with a qualified program manager and good resources. However, as soon as your mentoring program starts to grow, or requires a broader geographic reach, having access to the proper technology will be indispensable if you hope to hold your mentoring program together without placing undo strain your program manager.

Program Manager and Technology:

While it is definitely possible to start a mentoring program without adequate expertise, your program will not be able to reach it full potential without a competent program leader. You can certainly find an eager, albeit inexperienced, volunteer to administer the program, and the program may even run smoothly, for a while. However, there is no question your mentoring-program will fall well short of its potential if the program was not properly designed, or if the program participants weren’t prepared to enter into a successful learning relationship.

Expertise and Technology:

While it may seem plausible, and even possible, to build a solid mentoring program with only expert resources and technology, without the personal attention of a competent program manager the mentors and their pupils will tend to lose momentum. While some of the more motivated pairs will find success regardless of the strength of the program, most will lose their way.

All in all, any successful mentoring program must be primarily focused on delivering organizational objectives. Expertise is required when designing a successful program to be able to address, and continually evaluate and improve, core objectives. Expert training and professional resources are indispensable in fostering strong mentoring relationships, increasing participants skill levels and optimizing program outcomes. The only way to accomplish the objective is to have your mentoring program stands on all three legs.