A Father’s Journal: Help your ungrateful brats learn a bit about philanthropy
In this season of Thanksgiving it is easy to look over the turkey on the table, scan the faces of your family, look into the eyes of the next generation, your legacy, and think: “What a bunch of spoiled, ungrateful brats. They don’t know anything about working to achieve anything. They know nothing about hardship or sacrifice.”
You are probably right. What can you do about that? They are entitled suburban kids and you helped make them that way. There is no way to turn them into Mother Teresa by the end of the long holiday weekend. But there is one local group that has an idea to make the kids at least a little bit less self-centered, to get them to start thinking of others and maybe actually help. To contribute. To do something.
Here’s how it works. There is a non-profit group started by women in Fairfield and Westport. It is called CT Block Party (that is how the money is raised ... with other children raising money by getting sponsors of their Lego projects.) Your ungrateful progeny can get a $500 grant from the CT Block Party for any one of their favorite charities. Your slacker doesn’t have a favorite charity? The Block Party can help you pick one. Not from a list. They are thinking more long term. They want to help the child get more involved. They want the kids to put a little skin in the game. They want to create a generation of philanthropists, and not just with money. They want to help the kids identify needs in the community where they live and attempt to address those needs with small but powerful beginnings.
The by now slightly less selfish child must find a 501c3 charity and complete an application, for the $500 grant. The charity must be in Connecticut. The child has to contact the charity to get the application. They have to find out why this is a worthwhile charity and tell The CT Block Party. If approved, CT Block Party sends the charity a $500 check in the name of the child.
That’s called the Young Donor Grant. The Block Party has a second one. A more ambitious step. After researching the $500 grant and seeing it to fruition, let’s say you’re now generous progeny is grateful for their many blessings. They appreciate the hard work, and sacrifice their parents (you) and others have made for them. They want to really get involved. They want to put on a fundraiser to help the charity. But they don’t know how to do it. Because, after all, they were until recently ungrateful punks. Now they are grateful, but could use some mentoring and help in organizing the project. Guess what? CT Block Party is there for that, too. The women who put this together have between them organized hundreds of fundraisers and will help your now blossoming child to put it all together.
Conflicting studies have come out that say kids are more selfish than ever, or some say they are more philanthropic than ever. I am unsure which is the case. I came of age during the last of the “Me Generation” so I am pretty sure my Aunt Mary Pat looked across the table into our faces on Thanksgiving and thought, “What a bunch of ungrateful, unmannered, spoiled brats.” And she was probably right. I am sure every generation has said that to the next group ever since we first sprouted opposable thumbs.
So on this Thanksgiving I am grateful for this local group of energetic, enterprising women who are helping our families be a little bit more compassionate and caring to our neighbors.
To participate in the CT Block Party program young people need to be a student between 6th and 12th grades and live or attend school in Connecticut. Go to www.ctblockparty.com for more info.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "A Father's Journal" appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at Tlawlor@mcommunications.com.