Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Trouble With Non-Profits

Now that I work for United Way, I come into contact with other non-profit organizations more often than I ever have before (which is saying a lot considering I've only ever worked for non-profits and restaurants). In the three weeks I've been working, I have toured four United Way -sponsored organizations and spoken with representatives from a great deal more. So far I have toured:

Let's take a small photo tour of the Harvesters HQ...

The large room where volunteers sort all of the donated/purchased food into their respective bins. Not only do they sort the food, they also wash fresh produce and pack boxes to be distributed to the community. Given my love for food, I would probably have a hoot of a time in here. Perhaps I see some volunteer hours in the making... especially since I'll be living so close to Harvesters come September.

There are a LOT of bins in this large warehouse room.

BREAD. Lots of BREAD. This wonderful local bread company (a major chain one, not a small bakery) is experimenting with new products. The bread they are producing is perfectly tasty and edible, but legally they cannot yet sell it to the public. Sounds like a recipe for a large waste of bread, but this smart company has decided to donate their experimental bread to Harvesters. I commend this company for thinking of such a brilliant solution to their problem, and if I knew their name I'd certainly give them a proper shout out here.

Just one of their massive storage warehouses that holds all of their non-perishable foods and supplies (such as personal hygiene supplies, which Harvesters greatly needs as well). About five men driving fork lifts kept speeding around this room while we were touring the facility. They were driving so fast I'd swear they were racing or something. That, or they're just really good at what they do. I suppose the latter is more plausible.

It's great to have the chance to go behind closed doors and see these organizations' moving parts, and I love hearing passionate employees and volunteers speak about the difference these places make, but all of these visits are starting to weigh on me and create quite a problem.

Here's my trouble with non-profit organizations: I have a tendency to become too attached to them.
After visiting Cancer Action, I was struck by how they are able to address cancer at such a basic, personal level and realize what patients need most: food and medical supplies they can't pay for, blankets to stay warm, transportation to their appointments, etc. I've decided to donate more of my time to crocheting blankets for Cancer Action's patients.
At Alphapointe, I was shocked to see how very independent legally blind people can be. Alphapointe employs (with a full salary and benefits) over 100 legally blind individuals to work in their warehouses and shipping areas. I will never look at a mixed pack of Boulevard Beer the same way again.
At Harvesters, I found out something quite exciting. I already knew that the lifeblood of Harvesters is their volunteer network. They utilize the equivalent of 75 full-time employees in volunteer hours each year. What I didn't know about their program was that you can have your birthday party at Harvesters!! Each guest is asked to bring ten cans of food (as the present to the birthday person), Harvesters supplies the cake, and you get a way cool shirt and tour at the end of your 2+ hours of volunteering! I'm planning on holding a birthday celebration of my own there in September. For information on how to host your next awesome birthday bash at Harvesters, click here.

Today's question: What non-profit organization tugs at your heartstrings and why?

1 comment:

  1. You can have your BIRTHDAY PARTY there!?!? Haha that's awesome!


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