Giving What I Got

Recently, I’ve joined a company called Catchafire. It has me thinking more and more every day about giving what I’m good at. It also has me thinking “What am I really good at?”.

Catchafire is the largest online pro-bono talent matching service. They have done an amazing job of identifying the gap in skills-based volunteerism and helped me focus my efforts on giving back again.

I grew up in a home where volunteering was a normal event. I can recall many times where I would spend an afternoon picking up trash on the street with my parents, planting a garden in an old median in our hometown, working a soup kitchen or food bank, or volunteering during Goodwill’s annual local book sale. Volunteering and specifically giving back to the community was an essential part of growing up in the Gutierrez household.

During my first visit to Peru, my parents decided that in each city, we would buy a local good (Panetone, soccer balls, children’s toys) and hand them out in the city square. It opened my eyes to a need far beyond the needs of my own community back home and exposed me to an even more rural community of those in need. I was hooked on giving but something told me there was more than just giving money or goods.

Last year, I wanted to volunteer at least once a month to any organization needing my services. I made it through June but sadly got sidetracked. The year before, I was adamant about using all my volunteer PTO hours my employer allowed. I chose specific days of service like Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday to give back. Even the President’s call to action has encouraged me to give back again. It’s not just about the checks I write to organizations, it’s about the time I give and how my skills can help them build capacity.

Now, I’m researching new organizations in NY I want to give my time to. First on the list is Meals on Wheels or specifically CityMeals on Wheels. I love the idea of getting to chat it up with someone while delivering them a fresh, health meal. I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.

In addition, I have been making necklaces and bracelets to sell on Etsy and a portion of the proceeds will go to the making of my friends film.

One of my long term goals in life used to be (and could perhaps still happen) was to make lots of money and someday give it all away. I don’t want to die with a dime to my name. Let someone else have it that can use it to change the world some day. That is unless I do it first.

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