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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... October 2008
in this issue
  • Evolving Social Actions
  • Social Change & Social Service
  • Inspiration
  • Out of the Darkness
  • News >From DGT

  • Often a family's early forays into volunteerism focus on helping people meet their immediate needs. This is because direct service--working at a homeless shelter or packing food for the hungry--is easier for younger children to grasp. But there is another equally important strategy for building a better world: social action or justice work. As our children get older it's important to introduce them to the critical value of social justice efforts as well.



    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Evolving Social Actions

    Make a Difference...

    The goal of social action work is to change structures and institutions to get at the root cause of social problems, and to work together to find long-term policy solutions. Is there a cause that matters because it's affected you personally (see the family story below) or because you simply have a passion for the issue? First, learn all you can about the issue. Look at the library, books, magazine articles and online. Now consider how you can make a difference. Most often, the first step is joining with others who support the cause. (With the internet, it's easy to find such groups.) You can call, write or meet with elected officials; involve the media; create a newsletter; start or sign a petition; write letters to the editor; or organize a forum to educate others and increase awareness. No matter how much time you give, you'll know you're working to effect fundamental social change.

    Social Change & Social Service
    The Kid’s Guide to Social Action

    Talk About It...

    Talk to your kids about both justice and charity.

  • When you do community service work with your child, reflect on the root of the problem. Discuss what action might make a more fundamental difference. For example, when donating clothes to a homeless shelter, ask "Why do you think some people don't have a place to live?" The larger solution may be to advocate at the legislature for affordable housing.
  • Explain that the ultimate goal is to find solutions to social problems so that charity becomes unnecessary.
  • Brainstorm examples of each type of social change work. Consider what you have done individually or together as a family that constitutes charity. Then decide whether you have done anything political, or that involves social activism. What are the pros and cons of each?

  • Learn About It...

    Two books by Barbara A. Lewis are excellent introductions to social action. For the younger set (grades 4-8), read The Kid's Guide to Social Action. For high-schoolers, check out The Teen Guide to Global Action. Both provide step-by-step instructions for taking on a variety of issues (human rights, homelessness, environment). The books also offer specific tools and strategies (from fundraising to media coverage) needed to make a difference. These will be informative to adults as well.

    Photo: The Kid's Guide to Social Action

    Inspiration

    "Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lots of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

    ~ Robert F. Kennedy

    Out of the Darkness
    Kerry Bunkers with her sons, Justin (14) and Luke (12)

    It may be surprising to know that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among adults ages 18 to 65. Kerry Bunkers learned of the pain and devastation behind those numbers nearly 13 years ago when her own father died from suicide. This past year, her family-husband Mike and children Justin (14) and Luke (12)-have taken an active role in educating their fellow Minnesotans about suicide through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

    As the Bunkers can readily tell you, suicide has become one of the most serious health problems in the United States today. One attempt is made every minute, and one person dies by suicide every 16 minutes-totaling 31,000 lives lost per year.

    This year, the Bunkers family took on the job of coordinating the annual Twin Cities' "Out of Darkness Walk" for the AFSP. Before the event, this included publicity, registering walkers, preparing "light of hope" votive candle mementos, and soliciting contributions through their own donor website pages. During the event itself, Mike and the boys set up the walk path, plus helped Kerry with on-site registrations and myriad last-minute details. Kerry conducted a Stone Ceremony following the walk, designed to help participants recognize the importance of detaching stigmas from discussions about suicide.

    For individuals grappling with suicide's effects in their own lives, the three-mile walk at Lake Como Park represented a healing opportunity, as well as an occasion to educate the greater community about suicide. Through increased awareness (and funds from the walk), the Bunkers family and other local empathizers hope to establish local chapters of AFSP to provide support and education for those in need.

    What should the public understand about suicide? "It is a health problem which takes an enormous toll on families, friends, coworkers and the entire community," Kerry says. She is particularly conscious of studies showing that, as she puts it, "suicide appears through successive family generations." She hopes the family's involvement with AFSP carries a message to her children. "We want our kids to know that this community is comprised of caring people who want to help those in distress."

    To learn more about local AFSP initiatives, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.

    Photo: Kerry Bunkers with her sons, Justin (14) and Luke (12)

    News From DGT

    DON'T MISS THE EXCITEMENT!

  • We're having a wine raffle to support DGT. You have the chance to win a wonderful selection of wines. Tickets are $10 each (or buy 11 for $100).
    • Grand prize 50 bottles
    • 2nd prize 40 bottles
    • 3rd prize 30 bottles
    • 4th prize 20 bottles
    • 5th prize 10 bottles
    Simply email Gretchen@doinggoodtogether.org or call (612.822.6502) to order your raffle tickets. The drawing will be held on November 14, so order soon!
  • The annual Doing Good Together fundraiser will be held in downtown Minneapolis on FRIDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 14. If you live in the Twin Cities area, please join us. The evening will include comedian/author Lorna Landvik, pianist Benny Weinbeck, and food generously provided by 112 Eatery. Look for more details coming soon.

  • Our Family Service Night Manual is now available. To learn how you can host this fun, meaningful event at your school, faith group or organization, visit our website.
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