DeVos Place was abuzz Thursday night with talk of how young professionals in West Michigan can give back to their communities. Local organizations BL2END, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Young Professionals, the West Michigan Asian American Association, the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network presented A New Conversation: Give! Creating a Culture of Giving. The night began with an opportunity for networking and visiting with local nonprofit agencies. Organizations such as In The Image and the American Cancer Society were there to talk to these young professionals about how they can give of their time, talent, and treasure.
The main event, a panel discussion amongst community leaders about giving back, was moderated by Jamon Alexander of BL2END. On stage to discuss this very important topic were:
Cheryl Bremer, Regional CEO, American Red Cross
Jorge Gonzalez, Director of Economic Development, LNC Community Revitalization, Inc.
Maureen Noe, President/CEO, Heart of West Michigan United Way
Diana Sieger, President, Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Stacy Stout, Educational Director, The Hispanic Center of Western Michigan
Ryan Slusarzyk, representing the Young Professionals
The discussion largely focused on giving one’s time and talent by volunteering. The panelists all agreed—when looking for an organization to volunteer with, choose carefully. Find one whose mission you strongly believe in. Never be hesitant to share your ideas, your fresh perspective, with the leadership in the organization. Who knows? You may just find you’re your next career opportunity—a nonprofit with a job opening may look first at their most passionate volunteers. And remember—it is never too early to start teaching the next generation about giving back.
Grand Rapids is the second most philanthropic city in the United States, and it is up to us to sustain that reputation. So take a few minutes and look around for an organization that is a good fit for you and see how you can give back to them, doing your part to keep the philanthropic legacy alive in West Michigan!
— Danielle Josephine DeWitt. Photography: Terry Johnston