My idea – 100 altruistic actions in 2014

I have had an idea and want to write it down so I can keep track of it, so have created this blog.

My motivation to do this is that I hold a great deal of love for people and the planet, but am also very frustrated by social and environmental injustice. I believe every person can create change, and already try to live in a way that is environmentally-considerate and compassionate to others. But I want to do more.

So I have set myself a challenge: to undertake (at least) a hundred altruistic/pro-active actions this year.

Some are going to be bigger, some are going to be smaller, but they have to be out of my ordinary routine to count (with possible exceptions, but it cannot be something that is already an everyday norm of my life). The actions have to be pro-active, not passive. And shouldn’t have direct benefits to me.

My aim of this challenge is to do good things… that help people, the planet, or at least bring a happiness and spread love to others. My ‘philanthropic vision’ is on quite a small budget, so I suppose I also want to see that it is possible to create change even without having huge resources available to you.

I am not doing this with an expectation of this ever being read. I am not doing this because I want to be seen as a ‘good person’. I just want to see how easy or hard it is to do positive things for people and planet a) regularly and b) on a budget.

If there is anyone reading this, thanks for taking the time.

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Actions so far:

1. Regular donations to Oxfam

2. Regular donations to Greenpeace

3. Offered to lend to a stranger

4. Bought a lottery ticket for a homeless man

5. Gave baby stuff to a to-be mum

6. Started a charity

7. Gave a hitch hiker a lift and lunch

8. Litter picking

9. Voluntary essay marking

10. ‘Do Lent Generously’ challenge

11. Free C.V. and cover letter proof-reading

12. Cake for SPCA volunteers

13. Helping people with ‘emotional baggage’

14. Intellectual disability befriending programme

15. Spread the altruistic actions challenge

16. Saved a hedgehog

17. Rehydrated a homeless man

18. Donated to an eating disorder charity

19. Sweets for special needs children charity

20. Earth hour

21. Thank you letter to rubbish collectors

22. & 23. Donations to Oxfam & paying it forward

24. Cards for people in hospital

25. Supplies for daycare centre

26. Baking for (140) people

27. Breakfast for a homeless man

28. Give lots of stuff to a charity shop

29. Signed several petitions

30. Helped promote peace

31. Care package for someone in need

32. Set up stall with free plants

33. Thanks and Easter wishes to people who help the community

34. Supported an animal welfare centre

35. Wrote to someone living in a war-zone

36. Became a penpal with someone in prison

37. Sent a surprise to my ‘sponsor child’

38. Worry dolls for anxious people

39. Warm drink on a cold night for a homeless person

40. Served at a soup kitchen

41. (Further) reduced the ecological impact of our household

42. Cooked food for a soup kitchen

43. ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign

44. Encouraged bees

45. Donation to Alzheimer’s research

46. Motivation for people with mental health difficulties

47. Planted trees

48. Adopted a cat

49. Wildlife-friendly garden

50. Free fruit for neighbours & hospital

51. Pushchair for mama-in-need

52. Employment help for unemployed

53. Warm clothes for homeless friends

54. ‘Random Act of Kindness’, passed on a parking permit

55. Medicine money for a stranger

56. & 57. Found a home for a couple sleeping rough & home-starter pack

58. Facilitated volunteering to help a refugee family

59. Set up soup kitchen events in my local area

60. Created a pro-bono initiative at work

61. Helping getting gardening into school curricula

62. Picked up, sorted and distributed large clothing donations

63. Created a Sustainability Policy and action plan for a charity

Number 63 – Created a Sustainability Policy and action plan for a charity

The soup kitchen I run under the Hamilton Homeless Trust does wonderful work feeding people every night, but I know that many of the people that co-ordinate different nights use disposable plates, cutlery and cups. Including polystyrene – argh!

I volunteered and was met with support when I suggested writing a Sustainability Policy and creating an Environmental Action Plan for the charity, so that they can reduce their waste generation and generally become more environmentally-considerate and sustainable.

I was nervous to suggest this as I did not know if it would be something of interest to the charity, but everyone was really enthusiastic about it. I am really excited to do this and love being able to use my professional skills for voluntary work.

I am very excited and will keep this section updated as goals are made, policies are adopted, etc.

Number 62 – Picked up, sorted and distributed large clothing donations

It is difficult knowing what to count as new acts and which are now routine acts when it comes to my work with Hamilton Homeless (the charity I started working with ‘many acts ago’). I keep having lots of new responsibilities I did not have before I was involved, but they are also part and parcel of my personal volunteering commitment to them, so knowing what to count is tricky.

I decided to count this as it took me a considerable amount of time -multiple hours- to complete and also has left me without use of one of the rooms in our house for a number of weeks (as it is now a temporary storage facility). So my act is that I collected, sorted through and then helped distribute huge volumes of donated clothes and shoes.

Over the past weeks I have been collecting from various donors bags and bags, and boxes and boxes of clothes that are to be distributed to the patrons at the soup kitchen I run. It is so wonderful that there are so many generous people and it is clear some of them have actively searched through their clothes to find suitable garments when we made an appeal for warm coats, jumpers and socks. There are so many problems and issues in the world that it is easy to get overwhelmed by the negativity, but I have discovered so many people care about others, and show compassion and empathy. There is a lot of kindness and love in the world, really.

Number 61 – Helping getting gardening into school curricula

For my pro-bono project at work (see post ‘Number 60′), I am working with an 80 year old lady who has taught gardening at schools her whole life and would like to make sure this continues in the future and becomes more widespread.

So far, I have been researching different initiatives and funding opportunities available to schools to help them establish gardens. My plan is to connect her with one of these organisations (Garden To Table), and then help make the initiative more accessible to schools by appealing to government to make grants available that will allow them to access the organisation’s resources. Even though Garden To Table is a not-for-profit there are considerable costs for schools that wish to get involved (as they offer a very comprehensive programme and there are therefore a lot of running costs). My vision is the government grants will help this financial burden be lessened and so more schools can get the resources and support they need to help them build and maintain productive, effective school gardens.

http://www.gardentotable.org.nz

http://www.myhealthyschool.com/gardens/benefits.php – the benefits of school gardens

Number 60 – Created a pro-bono initiative at work

I work as a sustainability consultant; helping businesses and organsations reduce their environmental and social impacts, and become more sustainable. A few months ago I told my manager I would be keen to do at least one pro-bono project each year and she was very supportive of this. Not only that, but she said she wanted to do the same and now it has become a policy that employees undertake pro-bono work each year.

Number 59 – Set up soup kitchen events in my local area

Through my involvement in soup kitchens in the city I live in, I have come to have a better understanding of poverty in the area I live in. Over a month ago I started running a weekly food serving in my local area (which has many people struggling financially). Yesterday, I introduced a second day in to the initiative, and am really happy that both evenings are successful. The number of patrons is small and growing, which is perfect for allowing us all to build relationships with each other and to find out the needs of the patrons.

Number 58 – Facilitated volunteering to help a refugee family

This action required such little time and effort from my part I was not sure whether to count it or not. But I have decided to add it to my list after all, because it is an example of something pro-active that can be done with barely any resources (just a little time and research).

A while ago, my step-mother-in-law mentioned to me that she was interested in volunteering to help refugees settle in to their new home and get to know the local area. Then last night I was at a networking event for work and I met someone who works with refugees. She told me the person to contact regarding volunteering, and then all I needed to do was spend a little time on the internet finding his contact details and passing them on to my step-mum-in-law.

Volunteering with refugees in New Zealand: https://www.redcross.org.nz/what-we-do/in-new-zealand/refugee-services/

Helping refugees around the world: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c344.html

56. & 57. Found a home for a couple sleeping rough & home-starter pack

For the last couple of weeks I have been trying to help a young couple that have been sleeping rough each night to find a home. It has been so much more challenging than I imagined. With poor credit and payment records, renting has proven to be an almost impossible option at this point. I managed to find a place where they could live and pay board, but because of communication and organisational issues I still struggle to comprehend, their moving off the streets took extra days. Yesterday everything was finally ready and I dropped them off at their new home, where they will be living with a lady who is trained as a psychologist and seems eager to offer them a comfortable and stable home environment.

As a little gift, I made the couple a home-starter pack, to last them for their first few days. In it I put pasta and tomato sauce, cereal and milk, bananas, some washing powder, soap, shampoo, a sponge, tampons and a few more items. I spoke to them again today and they said all is going well, as did the lady that is hosting them. I really hope this is can be a new beginning for them.