Siddiqui: Holiday Prompts Thoughts on Giving

From the Wisconsin State Journal, October 17, 2007
By Huma Siddiqui
 

Kindness and charitable giving seem to be staples in most religions and cultures around the world. It is fascinating to see the prominent thread of this very humane sentiment in the fabric of a variety of communities. At this time of the year as the holy month of Ramadan culminates, most Muslims around the world not only abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset, they also generously participate in charitable giving.

The key message of Ramadan is to take a step back from the busy and frantic routine to reflect on what is really important and what we value in our lives. Because I grew up in a Muslim home, my understanding of the philosophy behind charitable giving is to extend kindness, and help others in the time of need. Being a treasurer for the past couple of years for Community Shares of Wisconsin has been a pleasure. It is not only because I love numbers (believe it or not!) but also because I get a chance to become familiar with a variety of nonprofits in the area. In addition, I see the impact of every donation.

Community Shares of Wisconsin helps 52 non-profit member agencies and does great work raising funds, increasing visibility of its member agencies and collaborating with several programs in the area to strengthen its ties to the community. Here are some examples of our member agencies’ successes that speak most clearly to me about meeting needs in our communities:

  • 1000 Friends of Wisconsin helped secure a 36 percent ($6 million) funding increase for transportation services for the elderly and people with disabilities.
  • Project Home’s 350 volunteers made Hammer with a Heart successful with major repairs to homes, some in the Prairie Crossing affordable housing complex in the Allied Drive area.
  • ABC for Health is the lead agency for Dane County’s contribution to Covering Kids and Families, a nationwide effort that seeks to connect uninsured kids and families to health care coverage programs.
  • Wisconsin Council on Children and Families defeated legislation that would have dramatically reduced vital income supports for low-income families — income supports that families rely on to pay for food, housing, and child care.
  • Disability Rights Wisconsin gave in-depth advocacy assistance to more than 1,000 individuals and families throughout the state.

When I think about Ramadan — what’s important in my life, and how my charitable giving makes an impact on people’s lives — I think about the work of our state’s many nonprofits. I don’t think it matters where in the world we are raised or live now. Charitable giving and having a vision for the future of our community is an essential part of our lives.

Our vision for the future is the starting point. Our next step is to make our humble contribution to the kind of world which we would like to leave behind for future generations — and hope that they will continue to carry the torch forward.

Siddiqui has her own cooking and spice business, White Jasmine.

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