For many of us, as we rush through our busy lives, all too often good quality family time is a premium. Family time is the backbone of our culture, and regretfully, for good Samaritans across the nation, sometimes there is little time left in the week for volunteering. With such limited time available and so many taxes on our free time, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were an organization available in which families can spend time together and volunteer to make the world a better place? Wouldn’t it be great for busy parents and grandparents to have an opportunity to teach their kids how to volunteer their time and energy to give something back to the community? Building strong families, caring kids, and a better world, Doing Good Together (DGT) has been promoting that since 2004.
DGT’s mission is simple, to inspire and help families to volunteer. This mission is built on three core ideals: inspire kids to care, strengthen families, and build communities.
Based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, DGT was started by current DGT Executive Director, Jenny Friedman. She believes that when parents and grandparents engage in community service with their children and grandchildren, they pass on the spirit of giving, strengthen their families, and create a new generation of humanitarians that will positively impact their communities now and in the future.
“We believe that by getting involved in service, and having thoughtful discussions around those experiences, we raise children who are compassionate, aware of social issues, and [are] instilled with the lifelong habit of giving,” says Friedman who has worked with children and families as both a clinician, and a teacher.
Additionally, she has spent over 20 years with her own three children volunteering. In her professional and personal experiences, she noticed that few resources existed for altruistic families to engage in community service. So, she established DGT to fill that need.
But this isn’t just one-way communication in which DGT reaches out to families to promote volunteer efforts. While DGT certainly encourages families to volunteer by communicating with them directly, DGT also teaches organizations how to better engage families in service opportunities.
In 2009 alone, DGT was able to accomplish many of its goals, including:
- Initiating sustainable family service programs at more than a dozen Twin Cities schools and faith groups.
- Partnering with Head Start programs across Minnesota to help low-income families give back to their communities.
- Initiating a collaborative effort with the Minnesota Children’s Museum to integrate service-learning projects into museum programming for Martin Luther King Day of Service.
- Working in conjunction with Global Citizens Network, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and Metro Meals on Wheels to attract family volunteers.
DGT’s good deeds aren’t merely limited to the Twin Cities Metro Area. Odds are, if you volunteer frequently, you’ve probably seen DGT just about anywhere in Minnesota. DGT presents at state and national conferences, exhibits at volunteer fairs and facilitates workshops across the state, and interacts with volunteer parents across the country through phone calls and e-mails.
With 85% total payroll devoted to program development, and 5% to fundraising, DGT should continue to provide and maximize effective programs for family volunteers. DGT exists thanks to the support of individuals and corporate grants — 90% of DGT’s 2009 Public Support Revenue was from Foundation and Corporate Grants (52%), and Individual Contributors (38%).
In this fast-paced age, of business meetings, soccer games, conference calls, agendas, e-mails, travel, school, events, and constantly being on the go, it is refreshing to slow down the pace a bit in the evenings and spend some quality time with family and friends. Now, thanks to DGT, you don’t have to choose between volunteering to help your community and spending a night with your kids. You can do both and instill a life-long habit in your kids of Doing Good Together.
For a list of family-friendly volunteer opportunities, check out the “Give and Serve” section of DGT’s website (www.doinggoodtogether.org).