My original intention for this year was simple. Be peaceful and be kind. But over the last month or so, I’ve decided I need to be more pro-active. And the first step I’m taking is to be more concrete in the institutions I support. Especially when some of these institutions appear to be under attack.
Since it’s clear from this current administration that money talks (hi Betsy DeVos and other millionaire, (in my opinion) unqualified members of the cabinet), let’s make our mark and help support the causes we believe in. Let’s break records for donations and break barriers in order to achieve equality for all. I’ve decided 2017 will be a year that I will be more thoughtful, more dedicated, and more punctual with giving.
I’ve decided, that with my son sitting on my lap, and as I talk him through the steps I’m taking at my computer screen, I will donate to a specific organization each month. I already donate here and there, but I’m hoping that since there will be a schedule to this, and I will make it a process that my kids will do with me, it will last for years and years to come. Obviously, I realize there is more to being active than to throwing money at an organization. And 2017 will be filled with other ways of giving that I will share with my boys. But this is our first step. I have chosen a few international organizations as well some national and local based. I think it’s important to not only support locally, but globally as well. We all live on the same planet.
Here is our 2017 schedule. I hope those that chose to read this will also chose to read about some of these great organizations.
January: ACLU – American Civil Liberties Union: the support they (and many others) gave to those stuck in transit at airports and abroad was the spark for this idea of giving this year. Leo and I have already submitted our donation to the ACLU to keep fighting for those that are most at risk.
February: NPR – National Public Radio: I have been consistently listening to NPR for the last couple of years and I’m a huge fan. When the President calls the media “the enemy of the American people” we need to fight back and support reputable news organizations. The enemy of the American people is certainly not the media. Journalists that ask the tough questions, and report on the easy and the tough stories are ESSENTIAL to a stable democracy. I highly recommend the NPR One app – composed short news stories that are great for a quick commute or a quick run! I also am a paid subscriber to the New York Times – an honorable, honest news company despite what the President may say. And whose current theme on the subscription page is appropriately: “the truth is more important now than ever.”
March: Planned Parenthood: March is Women’s History Month and Wednesday was International Women’s Day. What better group to support this month than Planned Parenthood. This historic (101 years old this year!), necessary, life-saving institution whose foundation rests on helping women has been the subject of intense attacks from everyone from the religious right to certain members of congress and now the most powerful house in the US wants to help defund it. Planned Parenthood’s purpose wrongly gets labeled in the press as that of primarily providing abortions. While they do provide access to this important and necessary procedure in a safe way, there is so much more to this great organization. Please support women, support family planning, support access to cancer screening and preventative care. This is so important.
April: CAIR – Council on American-Islamic Relations: The toxic travel ban proposed and shut down last month by the President is unfortunately not the only discriminatory idea out of this administration. The idea of a Muslim registry, as some in the administration have proposed, is horrifying to me as well. CAIR’s mission (from their website) is “to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” I mean, really, why do people care who their neighbors pray to? Encourage compassion and tolerance. Embrace diversity.
May: Brooklyn Free Clinic: This was started by a few fellow colleagues and friends in my med school class 11 years ago. How they managed to study for exams and rotate through SUNY Downstate and Kings County Hospital while also creating this organization is incredibly mind-blowing to me. They are some bad-ass, superior humans. This clinic serves the low income area surrounding my medical school – SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. It is open (and free) to those without health insurance and is completely student run (with physician oversight). It’s a great organization and one I’m so happy to support and have such close ties to.
June: UNHCR – United Nationals High Council on Refugees: The crisis in Syria has been called the worst humanitarian crisis of our lifetime. There are MILLIONS of people who have fled, there are millions more who are dying for help in Syria. How can we sit idly by and not help those who have been forced from their homes? I just try to imagine making the horrible decision of leaving my home, my family, my country in search of a place where I wouldn’t have to fear for my family’s safety. When Americans (and others) refuse to accept refugees into our borders, I think they forget that these are people who never wanted to leave their home. They were FORCED to flee. Forced to flee for their lives. They arrive to a foreign country speaking a different language, with little to no finances and with usually no family or friends. Can you even imagine this horrific situation? And then to see the people in these countries be upset and unwelcoming must be so heartbreaking. The UNHCR does incredible work, but they need help. This. A wonderful story about a Jewish synagogue in Chicago that raised money to help resettle a Syrian refugee family.
July: AAAS – American Association for the Advancement of Science: Because science is real. Because please don’t ask your doctor for a prescription for azithromycin for your cold (which is likely caused by a virus and antibiotics will have no effect) and then deny or question the existence of global warming. They are both based in science, and they are both based on research and facts. Support science. A list of incredible, smart women who won the Nobel Prize in science.
August: GLAAD – Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation: Love is love. Why discriminate? If you love someone, it shouldn’t matter who that someone is, or identifies as. Love always trumps hate. I want to live in a world where anyone can love, live with, marry, have children with anyone else.
September: NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: Because black lives matter. Because somehow, even in 2017, black Americans face roadblocks that others do not, and it is unacceptable. Black Americans still face discrimination, persecution and are treated as second class citizens. Not by all; but because there are still some who do, we must act.
October: Doctors Without Borders aka MSF – Medecins Sans Frontieres: An incredible organization that needs no description. I have known providers that have worked with MSF and they are among the most selfless humans I know. Providers travel to some of the most war ravaged, dangerous places on Earth to help those with no access to healthcare. They many times risk their own lives to help others. These are true heroes.
November: Pine Street Inn: As the weather gets colder, I want to support a wonderful local organization in Boston. During my training in Emergency Medicine at Boston Medical Center, I treated many homeless patients. Homelessness is a complex process that has roots in mental illness, substance and domestic abuse, among others. Pine Street Inn is a shelter down the street from Boston Medical Center that provides housing and so much more – job training, transition to permanent housing, and many other outreach programs – to almost 2000 residents of Boston everyday. And unfortunately homelessness is not unique to Boston: some information on resources in Fairfax County, Virginia and Washington, DC.
December: Capital Area Food Bank: As the holidays arrive, I want to help make sure there is always food on the table. Inspired by my dad this past Christmas who took us to help prepare holiday meal bags in Fort Myers, Florida, I plan on taking my boys to volunteer this holiday season. No one should be hungry.
Embrace diversity, be kind, be informed, show compassion. And if you are able, please donate.