This week’s listmaker: Ken Honeywell. Ken is editor-in-chief of Punchnel’s and a partner and creative director at Well Done Marketing.
The way our candidates for public office this year are fighting about the economy, you’d think no one in America has any extra money for anything. And it’s true that our still-struggling national economy–which, let’s be honest, started gasping for breath well before Barack Obama took office–means that lots of people are unemployed or underemployed or otherwise truly worse off than they were four years ago.
Which means that more people need the sort of help our charitable organizations do every day–and fewer people have the resources to support those organizations that do the helping.
But Americans are a generous people–the most generous people on Earth, according to one study. And this is the season where, if we can, we start thinking about making end-of-the-year contributions to the organizations whose causes we care most about. Here are the ones nearest and dearest to my heart:
1. Second Story. It’s tough to teach creative writing to kids. Kids don’t think they like to write. Teachers can be intimidated by teaching and grading writing. And creative writing isn’t part of standardized testing. Most kids don’t get to write stories and poems at school these days. So five years ago, we started Second Story, an Indianapolis-based not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help kids learn to love creative writing. We believe that creative writing helps kids open their minds, embrace new ideas, and find their place in the world–all of which can inspire them to take up science and engineering and business and you-name-it. Creative writing can be something that helps kids want to stay in school and learn. And if we get a new generation of great novelists out of the deal, that’s good for us, too. Want to donate? You can do it online here.
every year. And if you think that’s shocking, consider that Indiana charities provide food to 700,000 people annually, nearly half of whom are seniors and children. So it’s easy to love an organization that 1) gathers surplus food that would have ended up in a landfill from grocers, restaurants, food brokers, and others sources; 2) provides meals that feed up to 3,000 people a day in day cares, shelters, and community centers across the city; and 3) uses part of that rescued food to train economically underprivileged people for meaningful jobs in the food service industry. These are the things Second Helpings does, and it does them all very well. Whether you’re a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican, Second Helpings’s mission should get your vote. Thinking you should donate? Here’s where.
3. Southeast Neighborhood School Of Excellence (SENSE). I have not always been a fan of charter schools, and I am still a big believer in traditional public education. But I can’t deny the fact that I’ve seen charter schools do great things. The Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School in the Meadows neighborhood on Indianapolis’s northeast side is one example of a school that’s making dramatic changes in the lives of kids; Tindley’s “College Or Die” motto is taken seriously by every kid who goes to school there. (As proof, our Matt Gonzales just got back from a road trip interviewing Tindley graduates at Williams College and Amherst College, and he’s off to Northwestern University and Kenyon College in the near future.) SENSE–founded to give kids and parents an educational alternative in their Fountain Square neighborhood–is another school that’s succeeding. Why should you support them? Because charter schools depend on outside funding for everything but the basics, and SENSE is in a poor neighborhood where most residents can’t afford extra. Spend a day at SENSE, and you’ll see about 370 worthy recipients of your generosity. Want to give? Contact SENSE to find out how.
4. Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Not a lot of people in Indianapolis have
heard of LISC–but they’re familiar with the results of the work LISC has done in Indianapolis for twenty years. LISC is all about helping neighbors improve their own neighborhoods, connecting them with the resources and funds and other support they need to make lasting change in their communities. LISC has been one of the prime movers behind the growth and development of charter schools in Indianapolis. LISC was an early financial supporter–perhaps the early financial supporter–of Indianapolis’s most prominent neighborhood turnarounds of the recent past, including Mass Ave, Fountain Square, and the Near Eastside. LISC has helped neighbors band together and create quality-of-life plans that not only imagine a brighter future, but provide roadmaps for getting there. Bottom line: LISC means better neighborhoods, and no organization is doing more to help reverse the flight from our inner city. You can help, too. Contact LISC to see how you can get involved.
5. Friends of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control. The way we treat our animals says a lot about us. If that’s true, then we’re a pretty despicable bunch; every year, we kill thousands of innocent dogs and cats in Indianapolis. Some shelters, like the Humane Society of Indianapolis, no longer put down animals–but they accept only the animals they have space for. If the no-kill shelters are full, the unlucky animals go to Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, where the dirty business of euthanasia is handled. Friends of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control supports the city shelter in their efforts to have more animals adopted, improve the conditions at the shelter, and educate the public about animal welfare issues. If you care about dogs and cats in Indianapolis, this is one organization that can really use your support. Want to help? Donate here.
Special shout-outs to Indy Reads, Arts for Learning, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, the Harrison Center for the Arts, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, ESCAPE Foundation, St.Vincent Foundation–trust me, I could go on all day. Feel free to plug your own causes in comments. And, please: give if you can. Times are still tough, and your help means a lot.