Last Tuesday was Giving Tuesday, which has been gaining popularity slowly but surely since 2012. Apparently disturbed by the hullabaloo surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two days of frenzied retail purchasing in preparation for the holiday season, some people from the technology website Mashable thought to celebrate a day of giving to nonprofits.
I like the idea. An annual day shortly after Thanksgiving, where hopefully all of us give thanks for the blessings we have received, that we allocate at least a portion of the funds we intend to spend on gifts for one another to the higher purpose of supporting organizations that exist to give a helping hand to those less fortunate.
Thus I am making my annual plea to those who read this column to do just as the Giving Tuesday founders would suggest. However, I add a twist: I ask that when you consider your holiday and end-of-year charitable donations, that you keep those dollars close by and donate to nonprofits, social service agencies and other charitable institutions here in the Wallingford-Meriden area, or at least within the reach of this newspaper.
There are many solid reasons to do this. Here are two:
The first is obvious: you will be helping your neighbors, people you see every day. I am privileged to work at the Spanish Community of Wallingford (c’mon, if you read my columns regularly, you knew I would work in a mention of SCOW!), and it has given me a perspective of our local economy that not everyone sees. Through being there and having a chance to talk to other social service providers, it has opened my eyes to the fact that there are many more people in pretty tough shape in our otherwise comfortable, middle class bedroom community than we would have ever thought.
And I am not talking specifically about our Hispanic neighbors. If you talk to employees at the Senior Center, or Masters Manna or the Wallingford Department of Youth and Social Services, or the volunteers at Holiday for Giving, or the Wallingford Health Department, they will tell you that there is a great deal of what might be called “hidden need,” people in our midst who you would be shocked to find out are in dire straits. Local agencies are the best ones to serve these unfortunate people who are our neighbors and friends.
The other reason to keep your charitable dollars local is specific to Connecticut. We have all read and read about the chronic financial illness that our state government is suffering. Unfortunately, Governor Malloy has decided that one of the cures to the state’s financial woes is to gut funding to hundreds of nonprofit organizations, which, heretofore, the state has been supporting. Not just reduce by 10-15%, mind you, but reduce by 70-75%.
Over the years, these organizations have been the foundation of much of the state’s social service platform, providing all manner of needed services at a fraction of the cost of a parallel state bureaucracy. But when push comes to shove, which it has right now, these nonprofits do not have the political influence needed to avoid the bloodbath.
So having been abandoned by the Connecticut state government, these nonprofits that do such good - largely unsung - work right in our community of Wallingford are going to need our help to replace the lost state support. And when we help these organizations, not only do we provide sustenance to those less fortunate, but we also help the providers themselves keep their jobs and provide for their families.
I am going to end this plea with another of my patented shameless plugs for SCOW. You can help this valuable organization on December 8th and have a fantastic time doing it. Choate Rosemary Hall, in conjunction with SCOW, is hosting a concert with the Villalobos Brothers. These are three brothers from Vera Cruz, Mexico now living in New York that perform magic with violins, producing high energy, beautiful music of all genres. Tickets are only $20 each, can be obtained at SCOW, Hubcap Wallingford, Wallingford Lamp and Shade and on Choate’s and SCOW’s websites. I absolutely guarantee you a huge return on your investment, both for yourself and for a most worthy organization.
Stephen Knight is a former Wallingford town councilor.