Last week, I heard an amazing phrase from Carolyn Tuckwell, President & CEO of Boys and Girls Club at South Coast B.C. (BGC). In fact, I loved it so much I’m going to use it as an ambassador for social change; I aim to be positively disruptive about people’s views of charity.

Because… I don’t like the current thought-process surrounding giving. I think it is condescending, unproductive and can even be harmful. When we give because we are guilted into it, or think we are better off than others (yes, even when we think or say things like ‘less fortunate’ with the best of intentions) we are totally overlooking the power of giving on both sides of the exchange.

Instead of haves and have nots, we are really a collective of human beings with needs and gifts. Every single one of us. And at any given time, each of us needs something and each of us can contribute something. When our basic needs are met, we can begin contributing to society. And who benefits from this? All of us.

The conversation I had with Carolyn on Thursday morning will not leave me for a long time. This is a time in the world, locally and globally, that can feel heavy in our hearts. There are atrocities in our backyard and in places we’ve never been. If you are feeling helpless or like there isn’t any good in the world, have a conversation with somebody who is DOING something to help. Your mood will be lifted, you will be filled with hope, and you will be inspired. This is what Carolyn did for me.

You’re being asked often at this time of year to make donations to various charities. Today, Carolyn and I are asking you to consider making an investment in our society – an investment that can be made at any time of the year with incredible returns. We are all in this business of human outcomes; let’s take a closer look at 5 benefits to our communities when we invest in BGC.

1. Here’s something that blew my mind: Did you know that 20% of Canadian children DO NOT GRADUATE from high school? I had no idea the percentage was that high. So then what? Where do these kids find employment? What do they do for money? What about their self-esteem? What kinds of choices do they end up making? What kind of position are they in to contribute to their communities?

Makes you think, right? All these issues we hear about ‘young people causing trouble’ and the sad state of the world…what if we could do something about it instead of just grumble? When a child is involved in BGC, he or she has role models who did finish high school and went on to get more education. These role models make going to school ‘cool’. You may have heard that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. At BGC, that average is raised by the incredible staff and mentors. In addition to the role models, the kids can be part of homework clubs and receive tutoring. It’s not always the case that the child does not want to do their homework. They just might not have proper workspace. Or perhaps they have too many responsibilities at home, or maybe education isn’t valued in the home due to other priorities. At BGC they’re given the optimal conditions for success.

2. Who better to hear from about the benefits of your investment in BGC than the alumni themselves? Some of the testimonials received from alumni include:

BGC was the only place in their life where they were truly accepted for who they were. Imagine if every child lived that kind of experience. What kind of adults would they grow up to be?

BGC was where they learned about community and giving. Imagine if every child learned about community and giving? What kinds of contributions would these kids make as adults?

This 80-year-old organization is the place where thousands and thousands of children have learned about boundaries, healthy relationships, self-discipline, self-respect, self-confidence and gained life-long friendships. Imagine if more children had access to that. What kind of leadership and compassion would we have in the world today?

An investment in BGC is an investment in that kind of world.

3. No child is ever turned away from the BGC community. Not every child comes with a history of abuse or neglect; they are simply in some way or another not thriving. And the goal of BGC is to ensure that children not just survive, but thrive. Investing in BGC ensures that people are not defined by the hardships they have in childhood. How many adults do you know are still plagued with the trials they faced as children? And a lot of it is because they haven’t been able to define themselves as healthy people independent of the things that happened to them or around them. They haven’t been able to surpass those issues. BGC offers tools so that the children in their care can learn to become independent from the issues. The children can learn that they are so much more than their environment. BGC’s model is to focus on each individual child’s unique talents and potential. So much good comes from that.

4. Everyone wants to belong somewhere. BGC knows that. You know who else knows that? Gangs and other radical groups that prey on people who aren’t tethered to a community. The ones who don’t feel they belong. Gangs and other radical groups know that these children are vulnerable and just want to feel like a part of something. Investing in BGC ensures that more of these children are identified and welcomed into a safe, positive space. The benefit to society is priceless.

5. What I look for when I’m deciding where my hard-earned money is going to go is an organization that gives with dignity. This is a top priority for me because as I mentioned above, the old charity model irks me. These children are NOT powerless, their families are NOT any ‘less than’ my family, and they are NOT broken. And BGC is totally aligned with this way of thinking. It is really important to me that I support an organization that also believes in dignity.

At any given time, you and I need something, and we have something to give. Same goes for these kids and their families. BGC respects that in everything they do and in the way they interact with their community.

[Tweet “Give with dignity, knowing the recipient is capable of bettering your world, too. Support @bgcyvr”]

For more information about Boys and Girls Club South Coast B.C., please visit their website.

Was there an adult who believed in you when you were a child? Did it make a difference in your world? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative