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Monday, June 13, 2005

Making A Difference

There was a great article in Sunday's Washington Post about a local professor who donates a huge chunk of his income (recently more than half) and his time to charities. He even works a second job so that he can give more. This is phenomenal and clearly should get some attention from the press and from the general public at large.

It is admirable that this person has chosen to sacrifice the trappings of an upper middle class life to help others. More of us should share in efforts to make a difference, by donating our time and resources.

Some of those who do so get little recognition despite making huge sacrifices in an effort to make the world a better place. I'm talking about the people who work at nonprofit organizations that help the poor and struggling; who fight against racism, sexism, and abuses of human rights; who protect the environment and human health; who struggle for justice and a better world. Many of those individuals (including, at times, this writer) earn far less income than their skills would fetch in the open market. They are often sacrificing half or more of what they could be earning, because they believe that things can be better and that we have a responsibility to work to make them better.

The classic hero stories are about things like a firefighter rushing into a burning building to save a child. The day to day efforts of most nonprofit professionals are not usually that exciting, but in the end they do save lives through their work, like by making sure our food and water are safe to consume. They fight for the things we all need and most of us want, but are often too busy with our daily lives to deal with. So let's recognize hardworking folks and try to help them out when we can.