By Eleanore Robinson
Donate your money to causes that are meaningful to you.
It seems like an obvious statement, but with so many worthwhile reasons to give—from poverty, to disaster relief, to food security (our signature cause at First West Credit Union) among many more, finding the causes that hold the most personal meaning is surprisingly difficult.
My charitable focus for the past 10 years has been towards helping marginalized individuals in our community, though I realize all charities support those who are, in some way, in need. While I’ve never really thought of myself as ‘privileged’, my basic needs—food, clothing, shelter—have always been comfortably met. When you look beyond yourself however, it’s easy to see that there are people all around us who struggle daily to meet these basic needs—things we often take for granted like safe housing, medications, or the means to get back on their feet.
For a number of years I was involved with a group that supported young women at risk on the Downtown Eastside; I began as a volunteer in group homes cooking and giving mentorship which ultimately progressed to a position on the board. When that organization closed its doors, I re-directed my giving towards the Gateway of Hope through the Salvation Army, a non-profit that both First West Credit Union and First West Foundation have been quite involved with. The Gateway has many varied opportunities for volunteering or donating.
Since starting with the credit union in 2008, I’ve been donating to the First West Foundation through the Employee Giving Campaign—it’s immensely rewarding. Whenever I hear Seline Kutan, executive director of the First West Foundation speak, her message is clear, that even the smallest donations can have a powerful impact. I often meet people both within and outside my organization who feel stuck—they want to give to charity, but ultimately choose not to because they feel they can’t contribute enough money to make a difference. I like to remind them that charities have buying power and are able to make their dollars stretch much farther than you or I can. Even a dollar or two per paycheque can really make a difference. So I encourage everyone to look beyond themselves and consider doing something, no matter how big or small.