When deciding where you want to volunteer, you should carefully consider each nonprofit before you dedicate your efforts to their cause. To ensure that the organization you are supporting is legitimate, you should ‘vet’ the nonprofit, or evaluate and take a critical examination of the organization. Sometimes, nonprofits use flashy advertising and marketing strategies in order to garner people’s support, but in reality, they are not helping the people they claim to support to the best of their ability. Below, I have created a list of steps you should take to confirm that the nonprofit you wish to support is legitimate and effective.
About Urban Ministries of Wake County
In 1981, Urban Ministries of Wake County was founded when congregations of diverse faiths and denominations realized their community members lacked the basic necessities of food, medicine, and shelter. Their mission is to serve and advocate for those in poverty by providing these needs and more. In the 40 years since its founding, it has grown immensely, providing food to more than 30,000 people a year! In 2017, Urban Ministries was named the largest Food Pantry in Wake County to allow families to choose their food instead of being given pre-bagged food. Their Open Door Clinic also allows 1,500 uninsured adults to receive the care they need. In addition, they have a shelter dedicated to helping homeless single women. If you want to learn more about Urban Ministries, watch the video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWrz5SnnYMs
Helen Wright Center for Women
In 2000, The Ark Shelter, which was the emergency shelter that Urban Ministries provided, became focused on homeless single women. A year later, the shelter was renamed the Helen Wright Center for Women after the agency’s first director, Sister Helen Wright. In June 2020, a new 73-bed Helen Wright Center for Women opened, with the growth enabling service to more women in need. What makes this shelter special is that it is not just a place to sleep - it also actively prepares the women for the world. The shelter offers counseling services, workforce development, job readiness, and life skills classes. The shelter includes an initial 14-day stay and if a woman needs additional help, she can request to enter a program bed. After their initial stay, the Helen Wright Center for Women offers a program where the women can begin to save money toward a lease of their own. This center is amazing because it not only saves the women, but it helps build them back up.
Urban Ministries feels blessed to have over 1,600 volunteers each year, and you could be one of them! Volunteer opportunities range from volunteering at the Food Pantry, at the Helen Wright Center, at the Open Door Clinic, or greeting at the front desk. There are differing age limits for each volunteer opportunity, but you could start as young as 13 at the Food Pantry! Volunteering at Urban Ministries is an amazing way to give back to your community and help those who are in a time of need.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please click this link:
What elicits empathy in our hearts? Is it hearing the stories of thousands who are suffering, which evokes within us a sense of justice and charity? According to psychological studies and research, the greatest factor that garners empathy are the names and faces of the victims struggling, not their struggle itself. When it comes to appealing to a person’s pathos, the scale of an issue is irrelevant; what matters is that the person can feel a human connection to those who are being affected.
Dan Ariely, the President elect of the Society for Judgement and Decision Making, who also received a doctorate degree in cognitive psychology from the University of North Carolina, explains a prominent example of this phenomenon that he had experienced. He recalls how, in September of 2008, there were two new stories that grabbed his attention. The first was the headline of the New York Times; it was a report of the damages in Texas from Hurricane Ike, which had ravaged the state and left millions of people without a source of electricity. The second was a story about a young male, Mark Schneider, who was found attacking his mother in the head with a baseball bat. While both stories were troubling and elicited empathy, Ariely noted that the media focused on the second story more. This is because people could connect with the story since they were able to personally see the damage done to an identifiable woman, a woman with a name and a face. While the news about Texas was similarly tragic, and even affected more individuals, people were unable to empathize as much because they didn’t feel an interpersonal connection.
This reference poses a segway into the dangers of a phenomenon known as “empathy traps.” An empathy trap is a situation in which showing empathy enables an individual or group to take advantage of you for your good graces. Many people fall victim to empathy traps when deciding what kind of organizations to whom they want to donate their money. Frequently, large corporations will use empathy traps to bring in more donations from generous, empathetic hearts, and they will take advantage of those donations to further their own agenda. One of the most prominent examples of this is when people donate or volunteer to help out developing nations under the guide of a large corporation. Most of the time, the work done by those groups for the developing nation does not benefit the developing country; in fact, there is an ongoing debate that mission trips, which are held to give volunteers a chance to help out in developing nations, are actually very harmful to those vulnerable communities.
While not all volunteer organizations participate in such traps, the bottom line is, when you are looking to donate your time or money, objectively consider if you are effectively contributing to the bigger cause. Remember, it might be tempting to pay more attention to the one, but you do not want to ignore the many. That’s why it’s important to research which organizations you are planning to donate to or volunteer for, and make sure that they are an organization you can trust to help as many people as possible.
About Miracle League of the Triangle
Through America's favorite pastime of baseball, the Miracle League of the Triangle celebrates the lives of people living with special needs. Their non-profit organization welcomes baseball players with disabilities and their families to experience a positive sense of community and kinship; a spirit of inclusion; and an acceptance for who they are and what they bring to their community. At Miracle League, individuals who may not otherwise be afforded the opportunity to play on a team are welcomed with open arms to bring their smiles, laughter, and energy to their very own baseball diamonds. Just like in the Big Leagues, each athlete is called up to bat with a personalized nickname and Walk-up music, and every player scores their team a run on the scoreboard.
The Miracle League has grown over the past 14 years, starting with 80 children on eight teams to now serving over 500 individuals in the triangle’s special needs community. Today, forty teams play on two customized, accessible fields located in Cary and North Raleigh. They are growing and have a goal to serve over 1,000 local players, including opening a future ball field to be built in Durham near the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Through partnering with The Miracle League, Triangle cares is hoping to help them achieve this goal!
The shared joy at Miracle League is made possible not only through players and parents, but also a community of dedicated volunteers. In fact, the program offers over 4,000 volunteer opportunities between the two seasons held each Spring and Fall. Volunteer Coaches and Buddies work one-on-one with players, emphasizing skills, safety, and, of course, lots of fun. You must be at least 12 years old to volunteer and at least 16 years old to coach.
The volunteer opportunity that caught my eye is becoming a Buddy. Buddies are paired up with a player and help assist and protect the player while allowing them the freedom to play. Being a buddy is an amazing opportunity to be engaged and almost anyone can be one (ages 12 and up)! Working one-on-one with the players will also give you a new perspective on life and warm your heart.
If you would like to learn more about Miracle League of the Triangle’s volunteer opportunities, click this link: https://www.mltriangle.com/volunteer/
Anyone who has seen a Miracle League game in action quickly realizes they are witnessing something extraordinary. As every special athlete scores a run you feel the excitement of success; the thrill of victory; the elation of triumph; and the security and pure joy of being called “Safe!” at home.