I pushed some, “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here” signs into the ground around the half mile of roads from my house to the town beach this summer. I was tired of cars whizzing by as my one and three year old children shared the road with oblivious teenagers and overworked adults who wanted to get home from a long day at work. I was tired of being scared my child would get hit. So, I did something about it.
I sent an email to the neighborhood association mailing list, which is also a nonprofit created to preserve the community around our town lake. I titled the email, “Lake Shore Drive Speedway.” I got varying responses about how to handle the speeding cars. A “stink eye” was suggested. A call to the police for regular patrols was suggested.
We seemed to bicker about the solution, but I realized two things: 1) we all agreed it was a problem and 2) I had one solution that I was ready to implement. So, I bought a pack of ten signs on Amazon and asked my neighbors if they wanted to buy one. I got more than enough responses and I have noticed a decrease in speed this summer, including my own!
I monitor the signs to make sure they haven’t fallen over. One was stolen, likely by one of those oblivious teenagers. One was run over—an indication the sign is necessary. My sons were in the car as I went around and collected the money on back porches, which taught them the importance of civic duty, community, and neighborly goodwill.
Many of my neighbors do not have young children like I do, but are happy to help protect my children. I felt empowered that I could make a difference in this small way. All it cost me was $100 up-front, which was 100% reimbursed, and maybe about an hour of my time going around and collecting the money and putting the signs in the ground.
Now every day I drive around and see my effort and reap its rewards. I feel good about what I’ve done. I feel good about what my neighbors have done. That’s why Denzel Washington says, “Giving is Selfish.” It feels so good to give! How lucky am I to be called a philanthropist? How lucky am I that my neighbors are philanthropists?
Yesterday, I organized a “Kindergarten Conversation Night.” Another mother posted on Facebook her interest in having one so I used my connections and knowledge to organize it. The power of the free use of public library space and social media enabled me to get this done within a couple days and coming up in just a few weeks. I know how to get things done! And, I don’t wait for anyone’s permission–I just do it! And, I don’t sit around and complain. If you want something, go after it.
Two years ago, I also started and currently run two Facebook parenting groups: one for new local moms and one for preschool parents in town. I saw a need and did something. This is what I’ve learned in life: don’t ask for permission, don’t complain, just start where you are with what you’ve got!
What do you want to change in your town? In your country? In our world? You don’t have to have gobs of money to make a difference. Don’t wait around for someone else to do it. Tell me about how you recently declared, “I am a philanthropist!”