Philanthropy seems to be the buzz word for today. Both the Calgary Herald and the Globe and Mail are featuring the world of philanthropy with articles and editorials urging people to connect with their community through "giving." Some of the articles feature major donors who sustain large research projects or cultural institutions through their donations. Other articles feature community workers who give their time and energy to build a better future for those less advantaged then themselves. All of these people, in their own way are "givers."
Today, my family and I volunteered at the local Catholic Church, St. Mary's, at their Feed The Hungry program. Every week, the Catholic diocese sponsors a hot meal for people who would not otherwise have such a luxury. They also provide needy families with food baskets to tide them over for the week. We volunteered as part of a "Mitzvah" or "good works" project sponsored by a friend's daughter, who was becoming a Bat Mitzvah, a coming of age ritual in the Jewish religion. We spent the morning washing, cutting, setting, and bagging. It was a meaningful way to celebrate a happy occasion and a meaningful act of kindness.
The other day, I read an article, a wake up call to the community, that the Harper's Government will no longer be awarding as much funding to non-profit organizations as they have in the past. Instead, the Canadian Government will be introducing legislation to encourage citizens to give, to fill the gap left by reduced government spending, and thus to preserve our community safety net.
I do not know if a shift from government hand-outs to community caring will be sustainable. I do not know if such a shift , in terms of public/government responsibility is a good or even right idea. All I know is that to encourage enhanced community caring is a good thing. We should be encourage to spend an hour or two a week helping others. We should want our children to be part of that process as well. In the age of "I need," it is nice to say "I give."
For the lawyers reading this post, there are a number of "legal" ways to give, such as taking cases on a pro bono basis through Pro Bono Law Alberta or through Legal Aid Alberta (where I volunteer). Alternatively, consider sitting on a Board of a non-profit organization (I have done this many times - very rewarding). Or even consider becoming a section member of the Charities Law group through the Canadian Bar Association. What do you do to "give" back?