For those of you who don’t know, I was extremely fortunate enough to have an uncle who put me through the majority of my 4 years at Michigan State. However, you may also be unaware of the fact that I had to endure and go through a lot of pain – including the loss of my father at 14 – who would have been the primary provider for both the personal and financial support that I needed to get through a 4 year university. In short, without my uncle behind me these past 4 years, it’s hard to imagine where I would – or wouldn’t be – to this day. I owe a great deal of thanks and appreciation to my mom as well. She not only remained strong through those years, but she continued to exemplify the type of person I want to be – independent, intelligent, supportive and always passionate about her work, family and friends.

Figured I’d give a quick briefing of where my thoughts are stemming from.  Over the past few weeks I’ve been brainstorming different ways of how I’d be able to “pay it forward” to others who may be in need. My uncle has done more than I could have ever asked for in terms of supporting me financially and encouraging me to set goals for myself. And because of that continuous push he’s had on me, I have yet to ever fall short of any my goals. I’ve come up with one main idea that I think will help to “return the favor” –  a very small favor compared to what my uncle has done for me overall – but I still believe it’ll show the appreciation I have for everything he’s done.

I’m still in the process, as I’m waiting for more feedback and more opportunities I have of networking and meeting certain people. But I’d like to find various charities or organizations that I’m passionate about in the Chicago area that I could donate both my time and money too. I realize the amount of money I’m able to donate is very minimal in comparison to many of the contributions they receive on a daily basis. But knowing that I could possibly make a difference and/or impact on someone’s life is gratifying enough for me, as my uncle had a huge significance in mine. Paws Chicago, Chicago’s largest No Kill humane organization, focusing on preventing pet homelessness, is the first organization that came to mind for me. I came across this organization after one of Oprah’s shows focused on the advantages of adopting a pet rather than buying one from a breeder. I myself happened to adopt two different dogs from the local SPCA in Kalamazoo – making a pact to myself to always adopt any pet I may obtain in the future. With animals being something I’m truly passionate about, this organization will surely be one I donate to.

My Happy Zoe Zoe

Paws is really the only one I’ve looked into in depth, but after meeting with someone over coffee last week I have a few more in mind. In total I’d like to find at least 4-6 organizations that have an effect on me as a person, ones that I think very highly of and can really relate to. I’m hoping this will be a really unique and fun opportunity for me to get to know individuals in Chicago and allow me to feel a sense of happiness. Helping someone in need and having an impact is a different feeling of satisfaction than you feel when you accomplish something on your own. It’s almost an indescribable feeling, but yet it still leaves you with a smile on your face and a warmth in your heart, knowing you’ve done something good.  If you have an contacts or any feedback – please feel free to let me know – as this is something I’d like to do over the course of the summer.

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