"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher

PGK Bay Area - A Venture in "What If"

By Amy Johnson, Outreach and Marketing Manager, PGK - Bay Area

When you think of the Bay Area, what words come to mind? Technology? Innovation? Entrepreneurship? Amazing food trucks? OK, maybe the last one is just me (seriously, they are so good!). But I think everyone can agree that the Bay Area has a history of making the impossible possible by asking, “What if?” 

As a 15 year resident, I find it amazing that an area with such a wealth of resources has so much need. The Bay Area is home to thousands of non-profit organizations working to strengthen the community. In recent years, these organizations have made great strides by tapping into their corporate neighbors and adopting innovative business strategies. Founded like a high-tech startup in 2005, Downtown Streets Team played a great role in the recent decline of local homelessness even in the wake of increasing rents. In 2014, Loaves and Fishes reinvented their 35-year old soup kitchen model, resulting in a 90% increase of meals. And most recently, The Art of Yoga Project (AYP), a leader in the rehabilitation of at-risk and incarcerated girls, partnered with YCore to design and build a platform that allows teachers to train virtually in AYP methods.  By asking, “what if?” Bay Area non-profits have been able to make the impossible possible.

As someone who has made a career working with youth, I have a “What if?” question of my own. What if we brought our high-tech culture and vibrant non-profit community together in a way that allowed youth to become more active, engaged, and empathetic? What if we used existing technology to connect youth with meaningful, timely, and fun volunteer opportunities? What if youth could lend their voice to the non-profit community using devices at their fingertips?    

Fortunately, I don’t need to ask my “What ifs” any longer. Project Giving Kids- Bay Area is here. It’s changing the way we look at youth service and cultivating the next generation of givers. Project Giving Kids is allowing youth to become a part of something much bigger than themselves and realize they have the power to make the world a better place.  Maybe that’s the next great legacy of the Bay Area, and I'm excited to be a part of it.


So What Now?

By Molly Yuska, Founder of PGK

My oldest is in sixth grade and this election marked his first real experience studying our democratic process. As I have cringed over the past few weeks at the thought of what opinions he may form or the (mis)understandings he may develop as a result of this tumultuous election being his first real taste of American democracy, I’ve tried to remind myself at many moments that “this too shall pass.”

As many wake up this morning bewildered and unsure of where we go from here, I am trying to remind myself that that is the choice of this great nation. For months, mud-slinging and negativity have nearly overwhelmed many of us. But today I’m seeking solace where it can be found. And in the Dalai Lama’s article that appeared last week in the New York Times, I believe there is reason for hope. He wrote, “Virtually all the world’s major religions teach that diligent work in the service of others is our highest nature and thus lies at the center of a happy life. Scientific surveys and studies confirm shared tenets of our faiths. Americans who prioritize doing good for others are almost twice as likely to say they are very happy about their lives.” He went on to say, “This helps explain why pain and indignation are sweeping through prosperous countries. The problem is not a lack of material riches. It is the growing number of people who feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies.”

While the path forward today may not seem clear, if the Dalai Lama is right, it is at least rather simple. The American people need to remember and return to what made this country great, and different, to begin with: that together, in useful service to one another and our country, we are strong. We may have lost sight of that lately, but everyone’s vision gets foggy sometimes. Let’s rub our eyes, look around, and get back to showing the world and ourselves that diligent work in the service of others is indeed our highest nature.

At PGK, this is at the heart of our mission. If you want to help us achieve it, support PGK before the end of this season of giving and help us create the change in 2017.


Spotlight: Jackie & the Paw Power Pet Jamboree

To fulfill her Bat Mitzvah project, this animal-loving, 11-year old co-founded the Paw Power Pet Jamboree, a 5K race/walk with your pet in Lexington, MA. Now 14, Jackie has organized this completely kid-run event for the past three years, successfully bringing together businesses, vendors, and even a veterinary clinic in support of furry four-legged friends in the Massachusetts area. The most recent race brought in over 100 individual donations, an air-brush t-shirt station, a free pet nail clipping station, dog portraits, homemade ceramic dog bowls, and pets from around the area joined in on the fun.

Jackie started the race due to her love of dogs; she currently has two golden retrievers of her own. She is also passionate about the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA, where she donates the funds raised from the race.  When reflecting on her own volunteer experience at the shelter, Jackie shared that, ‘You see them [the animals] and when they get adopted, it’s the best part. Sometimes it’s too quickly though and you miss them, but you get to see the happy families and a good home.”

In a Q and A about the Paw Power Pet Jamboree, Jackie shared some thoughts and advice about her experience organizing this type of event:

Why did you choose to organize a 5K race?

“I wanted to do something and not just ask people for money, but have it be fun and create memories for them, incorporating their pets.”

What is your favorite thing about helping with the race?

“Every part is so much fun and you get to see how nice the businesses are - helping out - the community really comes together and the race has grown every year.”

What does it mean to be a #GivingKID?

"Being a giving kid means that you want to help others and not do it for a reward, but just do it to do it and feel good about it.”


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