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2011: A Chance for a “Do Over” to “Do Better”

January 3, 2011

By Terri Lee Freeman, President, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region

The standard greeting over the next several weeks will include an additional phrase — “Happy New Year!”  Just the sound of this puts a smile on most faces.  The word “new” suggests something that is unknown and without blemish; something that is fresh and untouched; a blank slate, if you will, with unlimited possibilities.  Thus the basis for the new year’s resolution.  While I’m not a strong believer in making resolutions, at the beginning of each year, I look over the past year and ask myself the question, “How can I make the best of this chance for a ‘do over’ and do better?”  So here’s my list for this year.

1)     Commit to volunteering with an organization – In my position as President of The Community Foundation, it’s easy to assume that I’m constantly in the community volunteering my time.  But what may constitute as volunteer work for some is simply a part of my job.  So, in 2011, I plan to personally work in some capacity with an organization close to home and close to my heart.

2)     Become a “micro-philanthropist” – Recently I read an article about this trend in philanthropy where people provide small contributions routinely, and over time they can make significant contributions that can have an impact.  I even “tweeted” (you can follow me on Twitter @TerriLeeFreeman) that I wasn’t crazy about the term but really liked the concept.  Well, my plan is to make real the concept.  Over the course of 2011, I’d like to see what I can accomplish via $15.00 – $50.00 contributions.

3)     Get the family (i.e., children) more involved with our philanthropy – This year we opted to limit family-gifted Christmas presents, for the adoption of a local family that really needed some new items..  I think this was the start of something big!

4)     Better understand the poverty facing our region – Translation, read more!  I’m not sure where I will find the time, but I’m certain this will be incredibly important for our work.  Our economy may be in a slow recovery.  Our region may be considered the wealthiest in the country, but I know that there are growing numbers of people throughout the region who are being cut off from the prosperity that can be found here due to inadequate education, life skills, and frankly, isolation.

5)     Invest more resources in poverty-prevention strategies – During the first five months of the year, the board of trustees of the foundation as well as members of our affiliate advisory boards will take a look at the frame The Community Foundation uses for its work.  Imbedded within that frame is the strong commitment to meet the needs of the underserved and provide access to the wealth of opportunity available in our region.  Through that process, I’m certain we will look at how we can best invest in community-based strategies that help lift people out of poverty and on to progress.

So there you have it.

This year’s list is a little longer than most, but I guess I feel a certain urgency that the time has come for me to do as much as I possibly can, both personally and professionally to make a difference in the lives of others.  This is my chance for a “do over” to do better and I’m running with it!

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