Man and woman smiling and looking at the camera

Giving Is The New Black

December 4, 2014  

Source: The Brooklyn Reader

Giving Tuesday just passed this week and though it might be a better idea to have it before America drops a kings ransom on "door buster" sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it's still a wonderful example that the battery has not drained on people's willingness to help others.

It just so happens that I was at an invigorating event hosted by GivKwik, an organization that connects companies to causes and communities and it was truly inspiring. #GivingTuesday, as a worldwide movement to celebrate generosity and to create mechanisms for giving, platformed some really amazing stories at the GivKwik event.

I work with Walk Of Art Kids, which is a not-for-profit organization, that brings art education to kids from financially challenged neighborhoods, with a focus on street art. We're a new organization, having formed in 2014 but our mission is important. We're based in Brooklyn, NY and have been pairing artists and instructors, with art hungry kids across NYC since our inception.

We currently have a Walk Of Art Kids Indiegogo campaign to raise much needed funds and participated in Giving Tuesday, via the aforementioned GivKwik event, at Impact Hub, in New York City, on December 2nd, 2014. WOA Kids didn't win a chance to give a two-minute pitch, on stage, at the Salon formatted event, but the 10 organizations that were selected and pitched were all super-worthy causes and presented the audience great opportunities to get involved and give back.

The amazing stories weren't just on the stage as I met Tyrene Gibson, a woman who invented AyaMed, an oxygen delivery system prototype, to help ease the pain of her daughter, Aya, whom was often undergoing treatment for Sickle-Cell Anemia. The device helps patients like Aya, get much needed oxygen when they're undergoing Sickle-Cell treatment and can be used for a variety of chronic diseases, where oxygen is needed.

Your image of an inventor could look like Albert Einstein, in a basement with a bunch of Bunson Burners, causing controlled explosions; but sometimes the inventor is a pretty real estate agent, like Tyrese. Since necessity is the mother invention, Tyrene Gibson gave birth to a medical device to help ease her daughter's pain, and soon, since it's in the final stages before getting approved, it may be able to ease the pain of many kids suffering through Sickle-Cell Anemia treatments. Ultimately, Aya received a bone marrow transplant and has been Sickle-Cell free, but the AyaMed is a much needed device and the whole story feels amazing. AyaMed, Inc is a big step in the medical industry.

Walter Thurmond III is a Super Bowl champion, having played on the Seattle Seahawks team that won the chip after the 2013-2014 N.F.L season, but most importantly, he a human being who is clear on the importance of giving back, and often does so through the Walter Thurmond Foundation For Arts And Education. His eponymous, non-profit organization, in partnership with other non-profits, provides programming in sports, fashion, film and art, to empower inner-city youth. His work with New York United Way and their Read NYC program, teaches literacy in inner-city schools, which shows that Mr. Thurmond is a champion on and off the field.

With the clarity that black girls can do whatever they put their mind too, it's such a treasure to see an organization like #BlackGirlsCode, which is a company based in San Francisco, that's dedicated to increasing the ranks of black girls in the often white, male dominated world of computer coding. Computers have increasingly become the most important tool in modern life and BGC's mission is to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology.

Calena Jamieson, Community Outreach Lead for the New York chapter of Black Girls CODE, spoke at the GivKwik, GivingTuesday event and really invigorated the audience, with talk of the young girls and the programming that the organization provides. Although the HQ of BGC is in S.F. (that was fun with letters right there), the need and void exists in many cities across the nation, so the the more chapters of the organization, the better.

Ultimately, GivingTuesday is an amazing day that expresses the beauty and transformative power of giving back, which is a legitimate win-win scenario for all involved...especially if you participated in #GivingTuesday at the #GivKwik event.