This is the first of many fantastic posts by new Penelope Loves Lists contributor Stephanie Petersen. Stephanie is smart and talented and very, very funny. If I’m in a bad mood, she’s my first call on any given day. And- BONUS- she’s also incredibly caring. As you’ll find out here…
My response was most likely along the lines of find a company that will pay me to travel, work for the UN, help make the world a better place -you know, something really idealistic and cool. Something that made perfect sense to me at the time, and seemed totally attainable. Sigh. Oh my sweet, sweet, 20-year-old self.
Fast forward 10 years, I have traveled, I have helped, and while the career I have does in fact pay me to travel, it’s definitely not to the desolate countries I once dreamed of gallivanting off to to provide clothes, clean water, shelters, and education. No, no, it’s definitely more of an ‘urban’ jungle that involves event planners, marketing executives and lots, and lots of phone calls.
Regardless, one thing I’ve learned these last few years: just because I can’t physically volunteer in these communities, doesn’t mean I still can’t help. It doesn’t mean that I still can’t make a difference in someone’s life that I will most likely never meet. In fact, making that difference can be incredibly easy. Here’s a few organizations that take away any hindrances, any excuses, and just do it.
I stumbled across this company at my friend’s bridal shower last weekend in Healdsburg – while wine tasting. I know. Dutcher’s Crossing Winery sells these products in their tasting room. Every one unique in it’s size, shape and color. Every basket hand woven in Ghana. And every basket that’s sold helps to provide healthcare and school supplies in support of the weavers, their families, and their villages.
I was sold on the look of it before I even read up on the company. It’s perfect for grocery shopping at the farmers market, storing dog toys, kid toys, blankets, you name it. Now, my only regret is that I didn’t purchase more.
You know most of us have in common? We wear clothes. I don’t really ‘know” where my Gap workout pants came from, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t made in the small storage room in back by the cute brunette that rang me up. In fact, I don’t know where any of the clothes in my closet actually came from. While that fact doesn’t keep me up at night, I do know I need clothes if I want to keep my job, my friends, and my ability to go out in public.
If you buy from PACT, they know exactly where that shirt, those socks, or that pair of underwear came from. Maybe you don’t really care if your undershirts are not made from hand picked, organic cotton. But what you should care about is that they made using renewable resources, made by fairly paid workers in clean facilities. You get quality clothes, and the people that created it get fair wages. It’s their homes and their communities see the benefit for their own work (fancy that concept). And these aren’t your basic black undies either. #triplewin.
So you don’t want a basket, or you hate clothes. Fine. Grab your friends and get a drink. Really. And make it a Stella Artois. In a pretty gold-rimmed glass. To me, a female who works in marketing, this ’Buy A Lady A Drink’ campaign is pure genius. From a philanthropic prospective, it’s pure gold (and those of you who know me know how I feel about gold).
Stella has partnered with water.org and donated over $1.2 million to help provide clear water to villages that don’t have access to clean water. They walk, miles, every single day to provide potable water to their families. A reality I can’t even fathom. By purchasing 1 chalice, you can provide someone clean water for up to 5 years. As if it needed to get any better, the chalice is actually pretty cool. #2fer.
I wasn’t always addicted to online shopping, but now that I am, that last thing I really need is another prepaid subscription service (here’s looking at you, Stitch Fix). Enter CauseBox. I didn’t stand a chance. I just joined and have yet to receive my first shipment, so I know that I am jumping the gun on referring them, but I.can.hardly.wait.
First you select your preferred charity from a list of 7. After some research, I went with Freedom Firm, an organization that works to rescue minors who have been sold into the commercial sex trade, restore their idenities, and seek justice against those who perpetrate these crimes.
Now, every quarter I will receive a box of featured products from companies that are committed to benefiting those in need. Whether it be medical aid, meals, or even money. Like I said, I have yet to receive my first shipment, but even if I hate the products, at least CauseBox has served to shed light on these admirable charities. And that is worth my money.
Much like the company I work for (and partially own, thankyouverymuch), Here Comes The Guide, See Jane Run is a woman-owned and operated company. I see so much of our own company culture in their story. They’re not just an activewear store, or a place to register for a race. They empower women, they promote independence, strength, and change. For every event they host a portion of their proceeds goes to a cause they they love.
So treat yourself to a cute pair of running shorts, or double knot those laces and drag your lazy friend out to a race, all while knowing that while you’re improving your health (or potentially rolling an ankle) you’re also managing to provide funds to breast cancer prevention or treatment, or to child development. And just when you think it can’t get any better, they reward you with champagne and chocolate. I’m pretty sure this is what Charlie Sheen was referring to when he coined the term ‘winning’.
So, there you have it. Some small ways you can do big good. Do what you will with this information: take it, leave it, share, or add to it. I’d love to hear what other organizations or companies you feel are worth exploring. Together, Penelopes are powerful.