Making a BIG Difference on Make a Difference Day
The 24th annual Make a Difference Day takes place on Saturday October 24th. It is the largest national day of community service. Citizens across the land get “hands-on” involved in their own communities with the common mission of improving the lives of others.
We’ve been reading about, and witnessing, Statesman Journal and Salem Weekly stories about people in need in our own local Salem-Keizer community.
Much of that need exists on the bottom level(s) of what is commonly known as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Please “Google” that phrase to see for yourself just what it means.
You’ll immediately observe that among the problems and issues at the base of the Maslow scale are homelessness, hunger, poor personal health and hygiene, a lack of basic safety and security, and woefully insufficient money.
Even one of these problems is bad enough, but any combination of them makes it extremely difficult for people to rise above and conquer their daunting personal dilemmas.
Thankfully, the majority of us don’t have to face such dilemmas. Hopefully, the majority of us have empathy for those who do.
The regretful “Maslow-based” problems that so adversely affect individuals point toward an even bigger story — one that adversely affects our entire community.
Consider one of the sub-stories within the “big picture” story: the fact that homeless people typically don’t even have reasonably easy access to a public restroom in the downtown Salem core.
Recognizing that problem, a group of local women intend to involve the community by raising funds to install art-inspired “arta potties” in the 7 blocks of downtown.
For more information on this subject, you can e-mail email@example.com.
In a sense, the lack of restrooms problem is the proverbial “tip of the iceberg.” It’s one of many long overdue for long-term and lasting solutions.
For example, read the 6-27-15 article in the Statesman Journal titled “Another turning point for Oregon schools,” written by Bob Stewart, superintendent of Gladstone schools.
He cites a recent study that shows Oregon as ranking 38th in student performance and 39th in education funding. As he said: “That’s not good enough.”
Mr. Stewart points to a number of “Maslow-based” problems as being core causes of these dismal rankings. Here is a quote from the article: “Neglect, domestic abuse, mental illness, foster care and poverty. Divorced parents, parent incarceration, homelessness and family members battling addiction. Most dropouts we interviewed were coping with multiple issues. We cannot simply wish away the resulting impacts to education, health, and the workforce. We need to take action.”
The superintendent strongly suggests that our Legislature must show the political will to provide sufficient K-12 funding to truly transform our schools.
Since the Legislature works with money that comes from us citizens, I have some suggestions for us to pose to our legislators.
One is a revision to the 4-tiered Oregon Lottery system. Though “public education” receives the highest percentage of the Lottery money, “economic development” gets almost a full quarter of it.
Why not re-direct a hefty portion of the current economic development allocation to assisting certain non-profits and agencies in solving “Maslow-based” needs? Couldn’t this kind of action be justified as leading toward greater “people development” and the resultant economic development that follows naturally?
Why not consider revamping our Oregon tax structure to further incentivize people to give money to the NPOs and other agencies that work so hard to solve “Maslow-based” problems?
This kind of economic development will serve the public interest, not only in our own Salem-Keizer area, but through the entire state of Oregon.
The Legislature could also create a trust fund that is similar to the highly successful Oregon Cultural Trust. Or even more simply, legislators could broaden the existing trust structure to include donations made for some of the various kinds of social services that are “Maslow-based.”
To do this makes economic sense, since the very purpose of the Oregon Cultural Trust is “to sustain and develop Oregon’s arts, heritage, and communities.”
It even occurs to me that our local need for “arta potties” should qualify for funding from the Oregon Cultural Trust, considering its broad-based purpose to “sustain and develop…communities.”
Another suggestion for us and “our” Legislature is that we create a modern-day “Civilian Conservation Corps” (CCC).
Back in the 1930’s, the CCC was phenomenally successful in employing the otherwise unemployable, teaching them job skills, and rewarding their work with income. That income gave the employed and their families a real boost in hope and spirit that they could “make it,” given a chance.
These hard-working people also gained a measure of personal stature in improving the well-being of America. Why not do that in our own state and serve as a role model for the rest of the United States in the bargain?
We know that Oregon benefited greatly from the work of the CCC. The CCC is part of Oregon’s history and heritage, and perhaps it should be once again. Why don’t we at least look into this possibility as a way to employ people to maintain and renovate our deteriorating public infrastructures. Surely this type of jobs-related action would qualify as “economic development,” wouldn’t it?
There is a national organization, the CCC Legacy, that portrays the work of the CCC via its CCC Legacy Journal. People can get more information by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and/or by calling (540)984-8735.
I have other ideas, and no doubt you have ideas too. Let’s raise our “community voice,” and talk to each other and to our legislators. And let’s act upon those that are “Maslow-based” as part of our Make a Difference Day activities on October 24th.
Thankfully, there are a number of individuals, faith-based organizations, non-profits, and other agencies that are empathetic towards, and working on, “Maslow Matters.”
They are leading the rest of us in serving the needy, and trying to keep various “people problems” from becoming even worse.
We citizens should learn more about what is already underway “here at home.” One of the easy ways to do so is to simply subscribe to our local newspaper, the Statesman Journal. The staff of the SJ does a fine job of informing us about issues that are very important to virtually all the residents of the entire Mid-Willamette Valley region. Personally, I think that an “investment” in our local newspaper is worth far more than we actually pay for it.
Another way to learn about what’s going on around us, especially in regard to our local non-profit organizations, is to tune into our local CCTV channels. For example, Wendy Brokaw and the staff of CCTV have done a terrific job of creating what is called the “Non-Profit Center” program.
This worthy program profiles a number of our local NPOs, so we can easily learn for ourselves what so many of them are doing to sustain and improve the quality of life in our local area.
Wendy provided this explanation of her wide-ranging and enlightening work: “CCTV’s Non-Profit Center is a vital part of our mission to help other non-profit organizations promote their programs and services. The center is a winning formula: a short 3-5 minute video brochure conveying the mission and showcasing one or more services followed by ways to get involved.
These videos are shown on CCTV channels 21 and 23, on CCTV’s online Non-Profit Center, and 24/7 on YouTube. CCTV also provides DVDs for use at volunteer orientations, outreach events, annual fundraisers and grant requests. We all win when these important service organizations are connected to our community.”
Did you know that CCTV is itself a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and that its call letters stand for Capital Community Television?
CCTV is true to its mission to “provide COMMUNITY (emphasis added) information through television… .” Literally “our own” local television medium, CCTV is primarily funded by the City of Salem and Marion County from franchise fees paid by Comcast.
Here’s what CCTV provides (taken from its web site: cctvsalem.org):
*Community Billboard for individuals and non-profit organizations to
publicize meetings and events;
*Live coverage of Salem City Council and Marion County Commissioners’ meetings;
*Live coverage of Salem-Keizer School Board meetings;
*Coverage of Salem-Keizer schools’ sports and music programs;
*Channels 21, 22, and 23 are CCTV’s local channels.
Please be sure that you take a personal look at CCTV’s “Non-Profit Center.” Here’s some of what you’ll find on this segment of the web site:
“Every day, without fanfare, local non-profits work hard to fulfill their missions, from celebrating the arts, sciences and Oregon’s heritage, to meeting the needs of our area’s underserved. But getting the word out to those who need their services, or who want to visit, donate or volunteer, is a constant challenge. CCTV has stepped up to help.
Here you can see what Salem-area non-profits are doing, watch a short video about each, and with one more click go directly to their web site to learn more. The page for each non-profit includes a link to their web site,and a video brochure which provides an overview of their mission and history as well as services and opportunities to help.
CCTV’s goal is to find innovative ways to help non-profits expand their outreach in challenging economic times. CCTV offers the video brochures and web presence as a service to our community.
To learn more, contact Wendy Brokaw, CCTV Outreach & Promotion Specialist at (503) 588-2288 ext. 39 or email@example.com.”
Presently, there are about 60 video brochures about our local NPOs that you can view on the “Non-Profit Center” section of CCTV’s web site. Please do!
Here’s a quote from Alan Bushong, CCTV’s Executive Director: “Salem is stuck in the media shadow of Portland and Eugene, and is the largest state capital without a traditional broadcast TV affiliate. In response, the City of Salem and Marion County created CCTV in 1989. Tremendous community support and volunteer effort have built CCTV into a model community media center, serving local governments, our schools, non-profit service organizations and individuals. CCTV puts this community on TV and the web.”
Clearly, CCTV is a powerful force of support for our community. Let’s in turn give our personal support to CCTV and the local NPOs that it highlights for us via its video brochure program.
Though we can read about in the Statesman Journal , and watch on CCTV, the hard work of our community-minded people and organizations, and applaud all of their efforts, the fact is that — for the most part — the majority of us remain disengaged and uninvolved in becoming part of the solutions to the “Maslow-based” problems that directly or indirectly plague us.
The classic phrase comes to mind: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” So, isn’t it time that “we the people” of Salem and Keizer get even more personally involved in changing our local community for the better?
Rick Gaupo, President of our local Marion-Polk Food Share NPO, an organization that is of tremendous community benefit, gave me a very relevant quote: “Nonprofit organizations are good at solving the short-term emergency needs, like hunger, shelter and crisis intervention. Long-term solutions to these issues are more complex and require an entire community working together. Part of the long-term solution to these problems includes non-profits, but it also includes businesses, government and individuals acting together to achieve a common goal.”
As Rick points out, that is precisely why “the entire community” must enter the picture — to seek “Solutions Beyond Services.” For too long we have been putting band-aids on the sores of our community, whereas we instead should do everything we can to ensure that those sores do not develop in the first place.
But how do we actually DO that?
We begin by understanding that the kinds of problems described above are not only bad for the people they adversely affect, but also bad for the general quality of life in our community-at-large.
We agree to certain mutually shared expectations, with the overall goal of making our community the best it can be.
And, of course, we also agree to personally contribute our time, our money, or both, to actually attain our designated goal.
How do you like the name “Maslow Matters — Salem-Keizer Community Fund”? This fund, or one of some such name, could become a type of “Community Chest” to which we citizens could contribute. Our donations would be tax-deductible. Monies would be allocated specifically to efforts to solve “Maslow-based” needs in the Salem-Keizer area.
The fund could be administered by the already existing and highly regarded Salem Foundation, within the Trust Division of our local Pioneer Trust Bank. This foundation is what is known as a “community foundation,” and it emphasizes the support of local non-profit organizations.
It’s important to emphasize that it is “We the (local) people” who can and should lead the fund-raising parade.
Nationally, between 2/3 and 3/4 of contributions to NPOs come from individuals. But on average people support only about 3 NPOs, with total donations of only about $1,100.00 per year.
Of all the donations to NPOs, between 31% and 35% (again, nationally) goes to religious groups.
In view of that fact, I’d like to respectfully suggest that each of our local faith-based organizations pledge to directly support the “Maslow Matters” fund. They could also directly support the NPOs that are involved hands-on with the solutions that are so sorely needed.
For those that are already doing just that — thank you. For those that are not — please consider it. Religious organizations already make a positive difference in our local area, but I believe that they can make an even greater “community contribution” than is currently the case.
Some people tithe to their religious organizations. Perhaps the organizations themselves could tithe to the “Maslow-based” community cause(s). What an enormous difference this practice would make if it were to take place on a significant scale.
Estate planning should play a vitally important role in solving “Maslow-based” problems too. Did you know that statistically, only about 30% of people have any kind of will or estate plan?
What if our community were to set its collective sights on changing that national statistic dramatically? What if 70% of us, or even more, had a will or estate plan — and what if we directed at least a portion of our assets to the “Maslow Matters” fund?Again, what an enormous difference this “will-ful” action would make if only the majority of us took care to put our personal wishes and instructions in writing.
Beyond hiking our percentage participation in estate planning, we could also make sure that we adopt a “Giving While We’re Living” action plan. If we actively direct the use of our assets now, we can — during our lifetimes — witness firsthand the huge impact they would make in the quality of our local community.
In the book Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World are a host of excellent suggestions, for benefit of individuals, businesses, and the NPOs they want to support.
Among the ideas is the “New Tithing Group,” whereby people tithe a percentage of both their incomes and their assets to their chosen NPOs.
This particular idea is one that people who are well-to-do might “do the math” on. The formula creates donation amounts that are likely to be significantly impactful to their charities of choice.
Here’s a quote by the book’s author, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, that is worth contemplating: “Giving is a journey, a calling, a way of living. It’s not a separate part of life — it is life, turning your beliefs and values into action and impact.”
While I am hopeful that as many of us as possible embrace this way of thinking, I want to respectfully ask that those among us who have substantial assets please lead the way.
I did some elemental research on the subject of “millionaires in our midst,” based on information from Phoenix Marketing International and Deloitte LLP’s Center for Financial Services.
Deloitte predicted that by 2020, the number of millionaires in Oregon will triple, moving our state to third in the nation in terms of new millionaires.
However, there are already a lot of “old” millionaires in Oregon — and in our community. The combined Salem-Keizer population is estimated to be about 196,250 (159,265 and 36,985 respectively).
If we apply Oregon’s “millionaire percentage” of 1.57%, we can guesstimate that we have about 3,081 millionaires in our area.
This simple extrapolation is likely to be skewed, however, because those who are millionaires are not spread uniformly throughout the state. So to be more conservative, I’ve reduced the guesstimate by an arbitrary factor of 25%. Even with this reduction, we appear likely to have about 2,311 millionaires in our midst.
I feel strongly that “We the people of Salem-Keizer,” can and should — to the best of our individual ability — become bigger and more reliable donors to non-profits. Ideally, our past gift of “X” dollars becomes a new gift that is a multiple of the old amount; maybe 2, or 5, or even 10 times greater — whatever we choose it to be.
Not only should the dollar amount of our gifts increase, but so too should the frequency with which we make them.
What if, modeling Make A Difference Day, we chose to create our own “Make a Difference Month,” each month of the year.?
In this scenario, individuals and businesses would focus on monthly giving to the NPOs of their choice. Increasing the frequency of our gifts would help our NPOs immensely in their having more sustained inflows of the cash (and volunteer services) they need, day in and day out, to conduct their various services to our community.
I can’t emphasize strongly enough just how incredibly important it is that we support our local NPOs, first and foremost.
According to Phil McCorkle, President of the Center for Community Innovation (CCI), there are approximately 800 NPOs in the Mid-Willamette Valley (out of about 2,000) that are “local.”
CCI was created to serve them. It is what I call our “NPO for NPOs.”
CCI has a four-fold purpose in the Salem-Keizer community: to increase civic engagement, to increase philanthropy, to increase collaboration, and to train leaders and staff.
Among CCI’s desired outcomes is the development of a “local culture of philanthropy,” where donors see and understand their personal impact on NPOs and their vitally important missions.
I joined CCI as an individual member, and want to ask everyone in our community who can afford the very affordable membership fee to please join too.
You’ll be making a meaningful investment in the very non-profit organization whose job it is to serve other non-profits — to make them as effective as possible at what they do.
CCI has wisely “partnered” with our local Leave a Legacy, Salem Leadership Foundation, Mid-Valley Development Professionals, Mid-Valley Volunteer Managers Association, Center for Nonprofit Stewardship, and the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley organizations. We can help this group, and our other local NPOs, succeed in their collaborative efforts by simply “partnering” with CCI as members.
To give meaningful support to our local nonprofits makes common sense. Why? Because the community-oriented human services and other work they do every day is the BEST deal for us taxpayers. NPOs do work that “government” cannot, or should not, do — making the livability and quality of life in our community better than it would otherwise be.
In short, NPOs are the best bang for our buck; a buck that is tax-deductible as a side benefit.
CCI will help our local NPOs set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based.
So it is clearly in our own best interests as citizens to adequately fund both CCI and our local non-profits. To do so is a classic win-win situation; one that is, in the broad brush, also good for business. The stronger our community, the stronger our businesses, and the employment that goes with them.
Check out CCI’s web site at www.ccioregon.org; call (503)581-9922; or visit the office at 1255 Broadway St. NE, Suite 110.
Getting “involved” with a highly beneficial organization like CCI is especially valuable because people tend to remember about 90% of what they participate in, versus only about 50% of what they see and hear.
Here’s an extremely beneficial community non-profit organization for all of us to get involved with — United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley (www.unitedwaymwv.org; 503-363-1651).
On August 20th, my wife Cherie and I attended UW’s “Community Celebration and Luncheon” event. The program began with United Way Executive Director Randall Franke and Salem Mayor Anna Peterson recognizing individuals, employees, and companies that have given their time and money in support of UW’s “projects and programs that focus on education, financial stability, health, and basic needs.” A big THANK YOU! to all.
Michael Davis, Executive Editor of the Statesman Journal, attended the event, and wrote an article titled “United Way: Resources falling short,” in the 8-21-15 edition of the newspaper. Mr. Davis said that the “bell-clear message” at the UW event was that though there are “scientifically valid solutions at hand to strengthen families and improve health and education outcomes for children, what’s lacking are sufficient resources to fund them.”
The United Way presentation focused on “Early Childhood and School Success,” followed by a call to action for us to get personally involved in “Changing the Odds for Children,” made by 2015-16 Major Gifts Chair and community leader Dr. Bud Pierce.
Attendees learned some eye-opening facts. Among them were these: 1. “Only 4 out of 10 children enter kindergarten ready to learn.” 2. “40% of third graders in the Mid-Willamette Valley did not read at grade level last year.” 3. “In the Mid-Willamette Valley, 1,198 students did not graduate last year. That represents a potential cost of over $311 million to our community in lost earning, taxes, and productivity.” 4. “Oregon ranks 35th in the nation for education.”
Surely those kinds of facts should not be acceptable to us and our community.
Executive Director Franke says that “At United Way, we believe education is the most important engine for economic growth and individual financial freedom. All the statistics point to early reading as an indicator for success both later in school and in life. Working together we can make a difference, we can change the odds for all children giving them equal opportunities to succeed, regardless of their current economic situation or life circumstances.”
Mr. Franke also stated that UW’s current funding goal of $2,275,000.00 is “a drop in the bucket compared to what is truly needed. We know what is needed. The question is: do we have the will to do what needs to be done?”
Cherie and I were struck by the feeling that the program was, in effect, about “Maslow-based” basic needs problems faced by our community’s kids. These are problems that we CAN solve, so why don’t we just roll up our collective sleeves and solve them?
I truly hope that you — that our entire community — agrees with the proposition that we shouldn’t “just live here.” Rather, we should each do everything we reasonably can do to “make Salem-Keizer come alive and thrive.”
If we do that as part of our “Make a Difference Day” activities this year, chances are that we may become a role model for the other towns and cities within our great state of Oregon. Ideally, we may even become a role model for the entire United States to follow.
After all, if our communities are as strong as they can be, our country is as strong as it can be.
With this viewpoint, we can even make the case that to support our local NPOs is part of our patriotic duty.
Let me leave you with a quote by former President Abraham Lincoln: “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”
Today, “Abe” would no doubt expand his vision to include both men and women. They would be proud of the Salem-Keizer community and the community would be proud of them.
We are those men and women. Let’s make President Lincoln’s words ring true for us and OUR community. LET’S DO THIS as part of our Make a Difference Day activities on October 24th.
If you’d like to talk with me about any of these ideas, or your ideas in these regards, please call me at (503) 364-2448.
Thank you for reading what I had to say — I invite you to share it with your family, friends, and business associates.
And thank you in advance for your personal pledge to help make our local community become the best it can be for all who live here — especially our children.
P.S. I surely hope that you found a high level of “community value” in this article. You can share the article with members of your family, your friends, your business associates and acquaintances, and the non-profit organizations that you support via CCTV’s website (cctvsalem.org).
I invite all our “local” non-profits (estimated to be about 800!) to also share the article with their staff, board members, and supporters.
Let’s help each other instill, beginning on Make a Difference Day, a community-oriented mindset — one that inspires all of us to “Give More More Often” to “our” local NPO’s.