Tag Archives: Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation

Pass the syrup

If you’re craving pancakes*, get your Saturday morning fix at the all-you-can-eat Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation pancake breakfast! There’s also a raffle with some awesome sweet prizes (facial, restaurant gift certificates, car detailing, etc.) and all the money goes to a great cause. We love this fundraiser because the parents of the kids we serve plan it and staff it themselves.

PancakesSami
When: Saturday, May 4, 2013 anytime between 8-11 a.m.
Where: Central Presbyterian Church, 3829 Grand Avenue (at 39th St.)
Cost: $5 per person or $20 per family. Tickets will be available at the door.

*Pancakes, cereal, strawberries and ice cream have been my #1 hankerings these past eight months. Bonus: If you come to the pancake breakfast, you can be one of the people who tells me in person how huge I look! Then I will glare at you and make you buy a raffle ticket as penance.

If you can’t make it, but are interested in contributing to “I Have a Dream,” we’re part of the Birdies for Charity program again this year. You can make an easy online pledge of $25 or more, or can pledge per birdie. This is an awesome program because our organization receives 125% of the funds raised, through a “bonus bucks” program.

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Side project: YNPN Des Moines

One of the big reasons I left full-time journalism was because I was so inspired by all of the amazing people I’d write about. They were doing things that were interesting and community-building. Reporting for Juice gave me a great view of what was going on and what was needed and I and was (literally) taking notes on how I wanted to get involved. Sometimes working at a newspaper creates lots of conflicts of interest and makes it difficult to pursue leadership roles.

Volunteering was a huge part of my life growing up and when I think about what brings out the best in me, I look back to the roles I had in the community where I was raised. I love Des Moines and I feel like there are so many opportunities to “be the change,” but I do also notice that because of the small-town nature of our city, leadership is sometimes passed down generation to generation.

We have an amazing group of philanthropically minded families in Des Moines, but I’ve sensed that as transplant you really have to make the effort and raise your hand, so to speak, or you’re not necessarily going to get called on. This was a strange lesson for me, because where I grew up, I had established myself from a young age as a dedicated volunteer. My best friend and I both won Rotary Youth Service awards, and my weekends were more likely spent dressed in historical attire giving tours of a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse than hanging out at the mall. When you move to a new place, you can’t rest on a reputation you built as a teen.

Now, almost two years after I’ve left journalism, I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to find fulfilling full-time work and truly pursue some cool side-projects. It was awesome and exhausting* to help pull together the July TEDxDesMoines event with a small, dedicated team. And last weekend, I helped launch a new group called YNPN Des Moines, a startup chapter of the national Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.

I wrote awhile back about “my problem with non” and growing into a new professional identity. The team steering the formation of YNPN is all about building up the fantastic network of people who do good in Des Moines, in hopes that we can foster collaboration, share resources and help each other become even better versions of our personal and professional selves. We’re really excited to get it off the ground, and then hopefully pass the torch to others who are motivated and have time to take on the group.

If volunteering was a big part of how you grew up, but you haven’t made the connection to a charitable group yet and don’t want to switch over to the nonprofit world, here are some ideas:

Attend the annual YPC Nonprofit Forum this Thursday evening:

I’ll be there representing the Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation and recruiting for YNPN.

100 Chicks for Charity also has a meeting that night. It’s a quarterly giving society whose members contribute $50 four times a year to a nonprofit that presents and gets the most votes at the meetings. It’s a great concept. I know $200 might seem like a lot of money to give to charity, but if you think about how much you spend to update your wardrobe seasonally, it might even out. (There’s also a 100 Dudes who Donate)

I also help put together the Giving City newsletter for DSM, which comes out monthly. It’s full of nonprofit fundraiser events, so if you’re looking for a night out on the town that also gives back, sign up!

* “Getting Involved” can be draining and energizing in the same way that establishing a new workout routing can be. I’m still working on balancing out the number of meetings I have with downtime at home, and some weeks leave me more wiped than others. So I’d advise — from experience — that you dip a toe in before committing to more organizations than you can handle. If something isn’t working out, make every effort to follow through on a commitment, but be honest and up-front about needing to back away and pitch in when and how you can.

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Birdies for Education

Months before I got my new job (and months before I had any inkling I’d be joining the Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation), I made a confession to my now boss. We were at a brainstorming meeting for TEDxDesMoines, and we were talking about topics that we should try to cover with our speaker selection. The conversation moved toward education.

“I didn’t vote in school board elections!” I blurted out. I felt guilty because here I was, participating in a discussion on education reform and the state of our school system, and I wasn’t really even engaged in what was going on in Des Moines.

Education, for many young professionals, is one of those issues that β€” unless you’re a teacher β€” we just sort of push out of focus until we start families. We might vaguely think about the quality of surrounding schools when we purchase a house, but it’s not a priority. Even though the quality of education in our communities directly impacts so many other elements — from crime rates to the state of the economy. (Huge shoutout to all of the teachers in my life!)

Gotta love outtakes from pictures of 6th graders!

I won’t stand on this Saturday morning soap box for too long, because I will be the first to admit that I have A LOT to learn about the education system. But I will share a link to the new Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation blog I’ve been working on, so you can get a better sense of the organization I work for.

If you feel compelled, you can donate to IHAD through “Birdies for Charity” and your giving will be amplified by a 25% match. This is a fantastic way to support an organization that is transforming the lives of at-risk kids and jumping into conversations about how to lower the dropout rate in our community and break the cycle of poverty for families.

Now, back to Saturday morning cartoons!

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