October 18, 2019

How I found Hope in these Dark Times.

It is no wonder an increasing number of us feel frayed and disconnected.

We exist in what many describe as a climate of hate, xenophobia, and racism. Segments of our culture seem to breed corruption, violence, and a wanton disregard for human rights and basic civility.

Depression and insomnia are on the rise, as we are unable to control the chaos around us. We’re wheel spinning in futility as we obsess over politics, the environment, mass shootings, healthcare, immigration, and the future of our country and the planet.

Even alpha individuals who are normally the regulators of every switch in their lives feel vulnerable, weak, and ineffectual. The effects are distressing and disorienting.

We need to make something happen to combat the hollowness that has moved into our collective space. We must restore the balance so that we can take back some control and not feel hopeless.

One solution that has worked to help me reestablish a position of strength in these demoralized times is to become involved with like-minded people working on a common mission to better society, if only in a small way. I found a way out of the quagmire by giving some of my time to a nonprofit.

Volunteering for a cause you believe in is a solution to feeling powerless in what often seems like a world gone mad. As we ask ourselves what civilization will be like in 20 years or ponder the future of coastal cities and wonder what fate our children will face, we can take positive steps right now to actually shape the lives of people and our communities.

There are 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. Nonprofits range from food banks and low income housing groups to theaters, youth centers, social welfare projects, arts education programs, trade and professional associations, conservation and historical societies, senior assistance organizations, shelters, aid for veterans, and much more. Their missions are varied, but they have one common denominator: they need help to do their good work.

Volunteering for a nonprofit can instill joy and a sense of purpose into our increasingly disheartened lives.

Giving time and energy to a nonprofit is empowering. Becoming involved in undertaking works of service via community outreach programs and helping to fulfill key beneficial agendas is inspiring and can reignite a sense of hope in the most bitter of hearts.

There are several easy ways to identify a nonprofit that might be right for you. You can contact Guidestar and CharityNavigator to learn details about many nonprofits, ranging from the small and underfunded to the mega-giants that are household names.

If you seek participation as a board member, consider learning more about the Junior League’s Nonprofit Boards Clearinghouse course on Leadership Through Governance. Facilitated by experts in the nonprofit arena, the program walks attendees through fundamental skills necessary to serve as a nonprofit board member.

Consider donating your talents and time to a nonprofit with a mission that speaks to you. Even a walk for charity can be inspiring. Tame the beast within by giving back.

Helping a group with shared values and ethics can reel in the emotional and mental shipwreck that occupies our thoughts and keeps us awake at night. We can transform our despair into positive drive for a worthy cause. We need them and they need us.

We all have something to offer to these noble groups—bookkeeping and administrative skills, graphic design know-how, fundraising abilities, event planning, or time to just show up and dig in for a better tomorrow.

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