An editorial by Heidi M. Pascual

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

Martin Luther King’s . . . leadership helped sustain the (civil rights) movement, but its victory was built on the daily contributions of many unsung activists.

— from “Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching.”

When I read that line recently, I started thinking about all of the unsung activists living and working around us in Wisconsin. Activists who work every day for nonprofits such as Bayview Foundation, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Action Wisconsin Education Fund, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

I wish I could be out there working alongside all of those activists who are creating positive change. But I know I can’t actively work on all of the efforts I care about. That’s just not realistic.

Instead, I make a choice to support them financially, which is easy to do through their umbrella organization, Community Shares of Wisconsin.

When I give to Community Shares of Wisconsin, my donation is shared among all 57 of its nonprofit agencies. So my gift makes a difference in many people’s lives.

One thing I especially appreciate about Community Shares’ nonprofits: They’re out there on the front lines helping to change things for the better — to improve the lives of our citizens now and into the future.

An example that comes to mind is the Cool Cities Campaign. It’s part of a national grassroots movement to help solve one of our most pressing problems: global warming.

Our local Sierra Club is encouraging Wisconsin mayors to proceed with innovative energy solutions that cut our dependence on oil, benefit public health, and save taxpayer dollars.

Eleven Wisconsin mayors have taken up the challenge — including Madison’s — representing more than 20 percent of the state’s population. Efforts like these will help ensure a healthy planet for future generations.

Another example is the work of the Fair Housing Center of Greater Madison. Each year they receive scores of housing discrimination complaints. Their staff and volunteers offer support, counseling, and investigative services to help with fair housing enforcement.

It’s this kind of advocacy and activism of Community Shares’ agencies that appeal to me the most.

But what do I, as a donor, get out of it?

First, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’m giving back to those who need our help.

Second, and more importantly, I think of the line from author Maya Angelou: “Giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

By giving, you realize that the problems in our society aren’t always someone else’s responsibility to fix. You realize your power, your potential, to make a small difference yourself. And that’s a wonderful feeling.

My gift to Community Shares of Wisconsin helps me sow change in people’s lives, now and in the future. We all reap the benefits.


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