End of Year Giving

29 Dec

It’s that time of year when folks try to sure up their tax write offs for the year, or something like that…

Never having been either financially secure or financially savvy I’m not sure what end of year giving is about, but I hear it is a thing.  So here are several local options for your end of year giving that I recommend highly.  (Full disclosure, I’m on the board of the first three organizations and the third project is my baby)


Best Buddies Ball 2010

Best Buddies is a non profit organization that helps create one-on-one friendships between students with intellectual disabilities and their non disabled peers.  Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver it has chapters in 46 countries and across the United States. Western PA Best Buddies, where I serve on the advisory board, serves nearly 2 dozen middle and high schools and colleges.

Why Best Buddies: The Story
A couple of years ago Riley came home from school one day full of her usual (non-stop) chatter.

Suddenly she stopped and said “People can be so mean.”  Uh-oh, I thought. Someone called her “french fry” again.  “What happened?” I asked.  She went on to tell me about a younger “special needs” student who walks around the lunch room and the playground asking people “will you be my friend?”  That day when she got to Riley’s table, Riley’s friend snapped at the girl, told her “NO” and told her to go away.

“I was so mad! ” Riley told me.  “She looked so sad and she can’t help it. So I told Lizzy she was mean and got up and told the girl I’d be her friend and played with her.”

From that point Riley took an interest in making sure this girl was not abused by the kids on the playground.

From the mouths of babes. I was so moved by this event and by Riley’s genuine generosity of spirit.  When I went looking for organizations to volunteer for as board members I imagined participating in progressive organizations much like I generally support. But then I found Best Buddies and inspired by Riley, and in honor of her, I joined the board.


I love food (duh). Fresh food is sooooo much better than canned, and fresh fresh is sooooo much better than old fresh food….umm does that make sense?  In other words food is best right after you pick it from the garden.

I also am terrified that we are rapidly killing the planet with wanton recklessness.  I’d like to leave my kids and their kids a chance at a long healthy life on earth.

And I love Pittsburgh. I understand patriotism through my devotion to the ‘Burgh.

So Grow Pittsburgh is an ideal organization for me to give my love and devotion.

Grow Pittsburgh’s mission is to demonstrate, teach and promote responsible urban food production.  They run Braddock Farms, a greenhouse at the Frick Art and Historical Center, and large garden in Homewood.  Grow Pittsburgh Also runs a program called the Edible School Yard and has a number of other efforts supporting their mission.  The produce they grow goes to local restaurants and to a few farm stands in neighborhoods like Braddock, which as many of you know is a food desert.   I love Grow Pittsburgh for intertwining several of the great loves of my life; good food, ameliorating and eliminating poverty, supporting local, and overall sustainability.  It’s the perfect embodiment of the concept of Einstein’s Desk!

Greater Community Food Bank

Again;  food, helping people, ameliorating poverty…so much to love about the Food Bank.  Another thing to love about the food bank is that it was started by one woman who saw a need and said “I can do something about that.”  I don’t know the entire story but Joyce Rothermel began the Food Bank in the mid 80s when the closing of all the Steel Mills left communities devastated and families with no where to turn.  Unfortunately the need has not gone away, especially in times like these.  Fortunately the Food Bank has grown and provides a tragically large number of meals every year.   But the need is never ending, so please consider giving to the GCFB as part of your yearly giving.  (Food donations are welcome as well).


Remember how awkward middle school was?

Imagine you are a seventh grade girl in foster care. Life is all sorts of awkward. For many local girls like this, some days are worse than awkward. For many girls in foster care or unstable family situations suddenly finding yourself in school, with your period, and WITHOUT supplies is an unfortunately regular occasion.

Planned Parenthood workers operating in local schools noted that many girls were relying on office staff for monthly supplies having little to no regular access through home. Generous office workers have been buying supplies out of their own money.

We think we can do better.

That’s where On the Spot comes in.

On the Spot is a  campaign to raise funds to help purchase supplies for local schools to hand out to girls who find themselves unsupplied and ‘on the spot.’

You can donate money to the cause or drop supplies at any local drop off spot. Planned Parenthood will receive the supplies and the cash which will go to helping local girls.

On the spot is a project of Desiree VanTassel and Jennifer England to address the scarcity of menstrual products for many young girls in low income communities in and around Pittsburgh.

All funds and products are distributed by Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania in schools that have a demonstrated need for help.


4 Responses to “End of Year Giving”

  1. Antonio Lodico December 29, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    What about the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee? I hear they help unemployed workers get the unemployment benefits they deserve (they dont charge, either!) and fight for policies that help the unemployed. In these tough times, their work is needed more than ever. 😉


    • Jennifer England December 29, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

      Yes and I hear they do good work too! No this post was to support organizations that never have and probably never will pay me. I will write another post about some of the great organizations I work with after the New Year, and that includes MVUC. Plus I hear they have a really dynamic new guy running the show over there now.


  1. Food, Wine, Good Cause and… a Booze Wagon! « Einstein's Desk - October 5, 2011

    […] you didn’t know, I love Best Buddies. Teresa Plunkett is also a member of the Duquesne University chapter, been involved for over 4 […]

  2. Food, Wine, and a Good Cause « Einstein's Desk - October 5, 2011

    […] you didn’t know, I love Best Buddies. Teresa Plunkett a member of the Duquesne University chapter paired with Chef Ola Mandley, has been […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: