In the year of 2011, the Red Cross raised nearly half a billion dollars in donations to repair and build homes for the Haitian individuals and families affected by the earthquake that ravaged their country. However, even with such ample funds, Red Cross’ achievements in their service were “dubious” at best. While the Red Cross had pledged to build homes for 130,000 people in Haiti with the money collected, only six homes were constructed, a number that doesn’t come close to covering the amount of damages and setbacks that the Haitian community faced; likewise, this small number does not correlate to the large amount of funds that the company received through donations. In communities such as Campeche, a city close to Haiti’s capital, many individuals continued to suffer in poor living conditions, dwelling in crumbling homes and using dilapidated facilities. As it turns out, the Red Cross had put a huge portion of their budget towards managing expenses, not building homes; a lot of money went to other groups with more experience in building homes, and Red Cross spent a lot of their budget on hiring more qualified staff members than their own. Their efforts were fruitless because of their lack of expertise in both building homes and understanding the Haitian culture; the language gaps made it difficult for the Red Cross workers to communicate with the Haitian citizens, delaying their progress tremendously.
Despite the fact that many organizations, such as the Red Cross, struggle to show actual results of their ambitious service goals, or the impacts of large amounts of donation money, many people continue to donate to these large organizations. However, because the Red Cross is vague about how their donation money is being used, many individuals aren’t sure how their donations are benefitting people. That’s why it’s far more rewarding to volunteer locally, where you can see the results of your hard work and dedicated service. When you volunteer within your community, you get to see how your compassionate endeavors are bettering the lives of those who are underserved. It’s a very personal experience, where you will meet people with wildly different backgrounds than you, and you will gain wisdom and develop a greater sense of empathy. In addition, rather than donating to a company who puts most of your money towards “managing expenses,” you are donating to a nonprofit who not only needs the money more than big “cash cow” organizations like the Red Cross, but will put your money towards good use.
Numerous nonprofits within the Triangle area have in-person volunteer opportunities where you can make a tangible difference in your community. Whether it’s sorting clothes at Note in the Pocket or working as kitchen staff at A Place in the Table, you can see the exact ways in which you are bettering people’s lives.
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Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin