It's the holiday season and you're in a giving mood. You're also running out of available days for improving your end-of-the-year tax situation. Whatever your motives, giving to worthy non-profits is a very good thing to do. When deciding whom to reward with your treasure, I'd like you to consider some groups that have helped us produce stories for The Bob Edwards Show. Each of them already has received my check.
Homeboy Industries This is the organization begun by Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest who has been enormously successful in persuading young Latinos to give up the gang life in East Los Angeles. He's supposed to be saving souls---instead, he's saving lives. The LAPD has given up on these young people, but Greg Boyle demonstrates every day that all they need is hope. He finds jobs for ex-gangbangers and has started five businesses now run by the young people themselves.
The Homeless Children's Playtime Project Social worker Jamila Larson and law student Gina Klein are the women who inspired our program's next documentary, which you'll hear later this month. Jamila and Gina observed that children at homeless shelters in Washington, DC had no organized playtime and that shelters kept toys locked up so the children couldn't play with them. As ridiculous as that sounds, it's true. Jamila and Gina purchased toys and games---then recruited dozens of other young adult volunteers to play with the children each weekend. Homeless children are heartbreakers---such hard times so early in life! That's why it's so satisfying to watch them feel a little joy---to watch them get to be kids for awhile.
Sasha Bruce House This is a Washington, D.C. shelter for teenagers. I went over there one recent evening and interviewed seven African-American kids and every one of them had been beaten up by an adult family member who was supposed to be caring for them. Three of these teenagers are already parents themselves. We often assume that homeless teenagers are runaways, but many are castaways---thrown out of their homes by parents or step-parents. Without a shelter, they resort to panhandling, shoplifting, theft and prostitution.
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth KFTC teaches people to become community organizers for economic justice and other issues. One of those issues is the fight against mountaintop-removal coal mining, a process that is destroying the Appalachian Mountains and thousands of miles of streams. Even the most casual listener to The Bob Edwards Show knows how I feel about that.
Developing Radio Partners Bill Siemering, one of the founders of National Public Radio, was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship a few years ago. He used his "genius grant" to help communities in Third World nations establish radio stations and use broadcasting to improve their lives. Read some of the success stories told on the above website and you'll understand how radio can be life-transforming.
Hungry for Music This is a grassroots volunteer-driven group that provides musical instruments, concerts and music workshops for underprivileged children. How many inner-city schools still have music programs in this era of budget cuts? Give a poor kid a trumpet and the next Louis Armstrong or Arturo Sandoval won't be left behind.
Your local public radio station Mine is WAMU.
Make yourself feel good by making someone ELSE feel good. The December 25th birthday boy said the most important thing was to love one another. Show the love and be generous. Happy holidays.