Mine is a story of obscure beginnings. I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific. I wanted to be the next Barbra Streisand. Or the U.S. Ambassador to China.
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I wound up where I needed to be. I find myself leading an extraordinary business community in a strong, vibrant, beautiful city. How lucky am I? Indeed, how lucky are we all?
As we enter what I consider to be the most joyful season of the year, defined by giving, it is worth pausing to both celebrate the year that is past and look to future opportunities to serve our community.
What’s in it for me?
You think giving and serving are important.
A shout-out to GreaterMSP for these statistics: More than 36% of MSP residents volunteer your time, the highest percentage of any U.S. metropolitan area for the last five years. Overall, our broader community is celebrated as “the most civically engaged metro area in America". This is extraordinary.
You are contributing to the greater good.
You are building up a reserve of goodwill in the community; you give back at a rate higher than anywhere else in the country. Thank you!
You are helping make our community a better place to live, work, and play. The families you serve are raising tomorrow’s leaders. So wonderful to see how you care for them!
Your employees respect leaders who “do good". Period.
Come join us!
Kudos to our next generation leaders. The Millennials in our community are all about adding value and giving back! Just a few examples from YPro in 2017:
- Social Media Contest on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters: This organization provides children with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-on-one relationships and mentorships.
- Volunteering at Arc’s Value Village: The Arc Greater Twin Cities is a thrift store and donation center, whose revenues fund programming for adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- Volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare: Ronald McDonald House serves families facing a child’s serious medical situations, keeping them together and near the care/resources they need.
- Winter clothing drive to benefit Kids in Need Resource Center: This event is coming up, Dec. 6! We will be collecting hats, mittens, scarfs etc. for the Kids in Need Resource Center, which provides students with the essential supplies to promote learning in the classroom.
And our Leadership Saint Paul class? “Best. Class. Ever.”
Each year the LSP class works with 7-10 nonprofit members on a service project. In groups of 4-6 people, the class works on projects that have been selected through an RFP process. The projects encompass anything a nonprofit can think of that they need a team of creative, energetic professionals to work on. This year groups worked on advocacy events including one for Catholic Charities, awareness events like the very successful Adults-At-Play for the Minnesota Children’s Museum, as well as a pilot project for People Incorporated that allowed the agency to plan and create an on-site volunteer activity that could be brought to corporations and other nonprofits throughout the metro for team-building events.
The People Incorporated project was especially interesting to me. The agency engages with volunteers on site to pack Kindness Kits filled with toiletries and necessities. Included with each kit is a card to access services that are given out by the Metropolitan Homeless Outreach Services team at People Incorporated. Volunteers are encouraged to take kits to hand out to individuals that they encounter asking for money throughout town, but especially at highway on/off ramps.
A testimonial from People Incorporated:
- One story stands out in showing the importance of what these kindness kits provide. During an outreach shift in early October, our outreach case managers noticed a sleeping area under a bridge in St. Paul. As no one was there at the time, they left a kindness kit and a note. Two days later, Gary shared that he had been staying outside for the last four months and had been homeless for at least three years. He also shared that he was so grateful for the clean pair of socks and hygiene supplies that he decided to come and learn more about People Incorporated's services. Within two weeks of leaving that kindness kit, Gary became enrolled in outreach case management, completed a housing assessment as well as a chemical health assessment, and is working to get connected to mental health treatment. Gary is also waiting to move into Huss Center for Recovery in Minneapolis where he will be able to address his mental health and chemical health needs in a stable living environment. And it all began with a kindness kit.
And as a Chamber community, we help members support other members when needed. Companies wanting to do a toy, bike, or food drives with customers or employees will contact Kathleen or Laura on occasion and ask for recommendations/connections to nonprofits that can benefit from the drives. There’s nothing better than helping facilitate giving from one member to help out another member.
No time like the “present” (did you catch that?!)
The Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce membership community – and our community at large - provides plenty of opportunities for you to get involved. I hope you will!
My hands-down favorite president is Abraham Lincoln. One of his more famous quotes has stayed with me over the years. And is never more relevant than today:
"I believe that a man should be proud of the city in which he lives, and so live that his city will be proud that he lives in it." - Abraham Lincoln
You only live once; but if you do it right, once is enough. Go out there and be amazing!
Warmest wishes to you all this holiday season!