It’s time to give back

“Not everyone has money, but if everybody can give some of their time and love to other people, it would be a better world. It’s time to give back.” – Secret Millionaire, Marc Paskin

In the spirit of the new ABC show “Secret Millionaire“, I think it’s as good a time as any to remind everyone that giving back is one of the most important ways to make a difference. While this show focuses on integrating undercover millionaire’s into down and out communities like Detroit, Michigan and Knoxville, Tennessee, it’s more about the bond between volunteers and people in need. The millionaire’s live in community housing, are allotted $50 a week (the equivalent of welfare) and volunteer at a few of the organizations they hear about by living with the people of that community. At the end of the show they surprise the organizations they’ve been helping with their real identity and a donation to the organization(s) they’ve been working with. While this is a show that eventually involves making monetary donations, the heart of this show is a message of hope and the realization that we all have the power to make a difference. Regardless of wealth or social status, there are so many people out there making an incredible difference without the funds to do it. Take Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner who run the Love Kitchen, cooking amazing homemade meals for families in need in Knoxville. Or John Cook who runs the Really Living Corporation, providing free transportation to un/under-insured to and from medical treatments (among other assistance). Or the Joy of Music School which gives free music lessons (by volunteer teachers) and instruments to at-risk inner city Knoxville kids.

There are so many options to give back. Think about your strengths, talents, and abilities and venture outside the box to see where you might enjoy spending your time. There’s always a significant benefit to giving back with time or love.

Here are some of the ways you can get involved with our partners:

Find a local Habitat for Humanity affiliate in your area and get involved in home building by visiting Habitat.org (as seen in Episode 2)

Volunteer with unicefusa.org‘s many volunteer opportunities including the Tap Project to help bring clean water to children worldwide

Consider pet adoption, building shelters, or volunteering with the ASPCA

Participate as an intern at One Laptop Per Child

Attend an Arthritis Foundation event or program like the Arthritis Walk, helping 50 million men, women and children diagnosed with arthritis

Help start a D.A.R.E program if your area doesn’t have one, be a teacher or a mentor

Consider being an international volunteer by visiting Haiti with Friends of the Orphans and helping out with rebuilding and projects to bring about positive change in Haiti

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