Philanthropic Greatness

All posts in the Philanthropic Greatness category

A Course I Wish Had Been Required

Published March 15, 2010 by heatherksmith

I was never a fan of math or science. Those were my least favorite hours of the day in high school. Nonetheless, I knew it was important for me to understand biology and algebra, whether or not they were my ‘cup of tea.’ Those courses are required for a reason, after all.

Since I started with the Arizona Grantmakers Forum in August, I began wondering why another subject hasn’t been more emphasized in the curriculum (or been included in many curriculums at all for that matter). Teaching this course could eventually alleviate poverty, end homelessness, put an end to world hunger, and the list goes on and on and on.

Ever wonder why you didn’t study philanthropy?…..I do…..

True, some of you might have touched on the subject during your days at K-12. But how extensively did you go into the topic? How many of your guidance counselors pushed you to study philanthropy in college, or even further, recommended you pursue a philanthropic career?

I like to think everyone is naturally a bit of a philanthropist. Why not build on it?

 Take a look at our resources for Educators and Youth Leaders on the AGF website. This includes Learning to Give, a site providing lesson plans for implementing philanthropy in every K-12 subject based on state standards throughout the country and Games for Change, a collection of video games that interactively teach about world issues (Become a 3rd World Farmer or experience the challenges of a global refugee).

I also recommend taking a look at our resources for Young and Emerging Leaders for links to philanthropy programs at the university level throughout the nation.

 I hope you find our resources helpful. If you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear them!


26 Miles and 4.5 Tons Later

Published February 1, 2010 by heatherksmith

If you’re from Phoenix, you’ve probably heard of PF Chang’s Rock & Roll Marathon. You’re probably also thinking, “That was  nearly a month ago.”

Even though all the runners have crossed the finish line and the bands are finished playing, there is still something from the race still going strong: The clothes.

Have you even seen a marathon? If so, you probably noticed all the sweaters, gloves, stocking hats, etc. that are left on the sides of the road. Considering the runners would need to backtrack over ten or twenty miles to retrieve their warm ups, they tend to get left there.

That’s where the volunteers come in.

During Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, Keep Phoenix Beautiful recruited volunteers for the “Clothing Recycling Project.” Around 100 of us were there, bright and early, to pick up the clothes left by the runners. After we gathered and bagged everything, it was donated to a nearby homeless shelter.

The donations surpassed a few sweaters and hats. Just at the starting line, we collected two city truckloads of clothes. All together, 4.5 tons were donated!

Weekend well spent! Pretty creative way to give back to the community! Makes you wonder what other  types of opportunities to give back are out there that we just haven’t thought of yet.

Furry Cornbread

Published December 20, 2009 by heatherksmith

I love playing with furry, little Cornbread.

In case you haven’t guessed by the picture, Cornbread is a kitten. One of the world’s cutest kittens, in my opinion.

I try to spend one Sunday a month volunteering at the Arizona Animal Welfare League. AAWL is a no-kill shelter that takes cats and dogs from other shelters where they could eventually be put down and provides them with medical care and behavioral treatment until they’re adopted.

For two hours, I help clean out cages, change a few litter boxes, dish up some food and water, and of course spend a good amount of time playing with the cats.

After the volunteering is done, I head towards the kittens’ room and spoil all the fluffy little tikes for a bit. That’s how I met my pal Cornbread. Don’t worry mom, I didn’t sneak him out in my sweater and won’t be brining him home for Christmas (even though I wish I could). Before I head home, I take a lap around the dog kennels and give a few pets out to the pooches.

The AAWL is a great place to volunteer. The animals are friendly and adorable, and the staff is awesome. I only have one warning for anyone considering giving their time to the AAWL:

You will want to take all the animals home!

McNuggets Aren’t The Only Great Thing About Ronald

Published December 14, 2009 by heatherksmith

When I was a little tike, McDonald’s was the highlight of every trip I took with my mom or grandma to Huron, SD.

I loved the toy in my Happy Meal, especially the Barbie figurines, remember those? I would inhale my McNuggets and fries so I could get my sock-footed tiny feet into the ball pit in the Play Place ASAP!

I still enjoy the occasional box of Chicken Nuggets, especially now that I actually eat them slow enough to taste them. But this weekend, I remembered another reason the big, red-footed clown named Ronald makes me happy.

The Ronald McDonald House.

I spent Saturday morning with fellow members of YNPN Phoenix (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network) preparing breakfast for families with children currently receiving medical care in the Greater Phoenix Area. Eggs, bagels, bacon and Dunkin Donuts coffee all around, along with some arts and crafts of course.

The history of the Ronald McDonald House is pretty good stuff. In the 1970’s former NFL football player Fred Hill’s daughter was being treated for Leukemia. He got a first hand look at how families with sick kids spent their nights sleeping in waiting rooms and on hospital room floors. Four years later, Hill along with Dr. Aubrey Evans from the oncology department of the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and owners and operators of nearby McDonald’s, created a home-away-from-home for these families. The Ronald McDonald House was born, and has now spread all over the world.

If you’ve never been to a Ronald McDonald House, I recommend volunteering at one. There’s plenty you can do, maybe host an event or prepare a meal. Don’t forget about saving those pop tabs too.

I hope to go back and volunteer my time again some time soon. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be having a sick child and being away from home on top of it. Taking some time to enjoy coffee and do a little chit chatting with the guests is a morning well spent in my opinion.

phi⋅lan⋅thro⋅py (fĭ-lān’thrə-pē)

Published December 5, 2009 by heatherksmith

Please fill in the blank. Philanthropy is ________________________

Did  you cheat and look up the definition on

When I tell people I’m spending my year of AmeriCorps service working in philanthropy, I get my share of confused looks and polite head nods followed by a “oh, that’s nice.  So what, exactly, do you do?”

Philanthropy, philanthropic sector, philanthropist–terminology foreign to many people, but should be everyday household words.

Check out this video co-sponsored by the Minnesota Council on Foundations.  I recommend searching YouTube for similar clips. You might just be a philanthropist, and not even know it.

Virtual Volunteering

Published November 23, 2009 by heatherksmith

There are some things I’m just not good at. My cooking skills revolve around a microwave, I avoid anything with ‘some assembly required,’ my best artistic work is probably a stick figure and if it werent for the yard guy, I’d spend my mornings battling through a jungle of vines and branches.

If you’re like me, you probably get a little bit timid about participating in projects you’re not so great at. I can tell you from my experience gutting houses with HandsOn New Orleans, even if you think you lack the ‘skills’ necessary for a task, you can still make a difference.  

Still a little apprehensive? Well, think about the things that you can do well, the things you love to do. There’s probably a way you can serve the greater good doing it.  I found the perfect project for me through HandsOn Greater Phoenix

I’m good with Microsoft Office, love writing/editing and use to competitively create resumes during my highschool years with FCCLA. So I got involved as a ‘virtual volunteer’ with Help My Resume.  Roughly once a week, I’m e-mailed a resume, I read it, edit it and e-mail it back. I spend one hour per week, maybe at the office, maybe at a coffee shop, sometimes even in my pajamas on the couch, “Fighting Unemployment One Resume at a Time.”

If you’re a Public Relations/Marketing kid like me, think about doing pro bono work for local nonprofits/charities. Maybe they could use website maintenance, a couple of fliers designed or some news releases. Think about, you’re good at those things and love doing them.  Even if your day has you going in a million different directions, remember, you can probably do these things from home, on your own time with your own computer and your own e-mail. 

Well, I’m going to go back drinking my coffee and editing another resume. Bye for now 🙂

The New Life Thus Far

Published November 3, 2009 by heatherksmith

Janet and II’m now two months into my year service with Americorps VISTA.

In case you’re wondering,
VISTA =Volunteer In Service to America. Our mission=Fight poverty

In otherwords, I’m a professional volunteer with the government.  (Please disregard any talk from Michele Bachmann about “re-education camps” that you may have heard. I can tell you from first hand experience, certainly not the case, her son must agree).

I recommend checking out the website, you might find a service site perfect for you. I did. I’m doing marketing and communications. Not only do I get warm fuzzies from giving back, I also get to do what I love. Pretty sweet deal. You should be jealous. 

I moved to Phoenix from South Dakota for my service project. Don’t so much love the heat of summer and the breeze that resembles a blowdryer, but I’m really enjoying the lack of blizzards and scraping ice off the car windshield in the morning. (Yes friends form home, you can hate me for a few moments).

I haven’t seemd to have been able to stay put these past few years (De Smet to Spearfish, SD, to Mexico, back to Spearfish, off to a summer in Minneapolis, one more time to Spearfish and now Phoenix). I’ll probably explain this in more detail sometime in the future. I plan to use this blog to keep  my friends and family from all of these different corners updated on what’s going on in my life, along with the random thoughts that are going through my mind.  Anyway, enjoy the tidbits from my life.