Thursday, January 3, 2008

Get Off Your Can and Make A Difference!

When the Black Panther Party began its Free Breakfast Program for Children in Oakland, CA in 1969, it was a amazing success. Children who would have gone without breakfast before school, went to school instead full and ready to learn. Multiple studies have proven that children that have a good breakfast before school, learn better. They are worried about reading and math instead of worrying about being hungry. The Black Panthers also provided bag lunches for the children to take to school with them when they discovered that for some children the free breakfast was the only meal that child would have that day!

This free breakfast program ultimately lead to other programs like it across the country, at its peak 10,000 children were being feed DAILY! The Black Panthers started this program on their own without any governmental assistance. In fact, they didn't even bother to ask the government, they just did it! Further, it was this program among others that got the FBI and other government organization interested in dismantling the Black Panther Party. Independent and self-sufficient black folks is clearly a very dangerous thing!

You don't need anyone's permission to volunteer! Getting involved with something you believe in and stick with it! Yes, everyone is busy and yes, volunteering takes up your time and sometimes your money. Black people in general are catching some serious heat and black women and girls are really taking some serious hits in this battle. We are well aware what the problems are, lets start working on resolving some of them.

Some Volunteering Suggestions:

The Girl Scouts of America has to be desperate for black women to participate as troop leaders. I rarely ever see a black girl scout and that makes me sad. I was a girl scout, a gangsta girl scout, but a girl scout, none the less and a good one! Vanessa and Angela Simmons (Yes, Run's little girls) are doing a special volunteer program with the Girl Scouts. Check it out!

Big Brothers Big Sisters is always looking for volunteers. Be flexible! Depending on where you live there maybe plenty of black women to be big sisters to little girls, but they may ask you to be a big sister to a little boy. Go for it! Be his big sister and find different ways to introduce him to positive black males.

Join a reading program or start one. Remember R.I.F. - Reading is Fundamental? This organization still exists and they need you! Junior Great Books is another wonderful organization that could use leaders and participants. All local libraries have some kind of reading or literacy program and they always need help. And it is not just children that need help with reading and comprehension, illiteracy among adults, particularly African Americans is way too high!

If you are interested in local, state, or national politics, then find a candidate to support. Volunteer to assist with their campaign. Political candidates always need someone to work the phones, canvas neighborhoods, distribute campaign materials, etc... I am always looking for black folks when they show political campaign headquarters and I rarely see any. How many of you Barack Obama lovers have registered on his website and done more than get a bumper sticker?

This is just a sampling of volunteer opportunities out there. I will be posting other chances and places to volunteer in the near future. If you any suggestion, hit me on my blog e-mail.


SheCodes January 3, 2008 at 3:03 PM  

Hey I used to be a brownie and loved it. After that I had to choose between girl scouts and sports and chose sports instead.

I also think that a lot of us ladies who are stuck in the basements of our churches frying chicken and washing dishes, ought to get out there and save a black girl.

There is federal, local and state funding for feeding programs. My church feeds 150+ families (not individuals, but families) every week, without a dime of government money. Those ladies who run that program are my heros.

Feed a child today.

Anonymous,  January 3, 2008 at 5:33 PM  

Great post Prof Tracey. And January is National Mentor Month.

wisdomteachesme January 4, 2008 at 11:33 AM  

hey prof tracey,
just got this via email-and thought how timely-as i remembered this post you wrote.

"Editor seeks essence of mentoring young"
By Julianne Malveaux

Randi523 January 4, 2008 at 2:01 PM  

I'll give a shout out to my current volunteer work of choice: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). Basically, we work with/for the courts to provide an UNBIASED decision about a child's permanent home placement (DHR, foster home, back with parents, etc). It's a lot of work at times, but very, very rewarding. And you don't have to be a judge, attorney, or social worker to volunteer-you just have to care about the well-being of children.

tasha212 January 4, 2008 at 7:03 PM  

Great post! I was a mentor my freshman and sophomore year in college. It was a very rewarding experience. I still keep in touch with the girl that I mentored. I said that this year I would get involved with some king of volunteer work. I used to be very active, but kinda fell off. I want to be one of those women who not only speaks about service but lives a life of service.

Professor Tracey January 4, 2008 at 7:38 PM  

Randi and Tasha - awesome additions. I will be re-visiting this subject often in the future.

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