As we come to the end of the year and the holiday giving season, I've been reflecting on my first six months as the new vice president of philanthropy at Metropolitan Planning Council.
As a lifelong Chicagoan, it’s been a thrill for me to work for an organization that has been making the Chicago region a better place to live and work for the past 82 years. I’ve been inspired by the passion and dedication of my colleagues, the tireless commitment of our board members and the generosity and selflessness of our many donors and volunteers.
Joining MPC in the late spring of this year has felt especially timely for me, since our city has seen many challenges in recent months: high crime rates, crumbling infrastructure, lack of growth and an ever-widening chasm between the haves and the have nots.
But while I’m looking forward to helping tackle the challenges we face as a region, I’m also aware of the opportunities. As I’ve interacted with MPC’s diverse group of constituents, I’ve continually been energized by the sense of personal commitment many Chicagoans feel now, and how often I have heard people say “what can I do to make a difference?”
Those are magical words to a fundraiser. Because ultimately I think the power of philanthropy is that it allows all of us to be part of the solution. Philanthropy forges connections between the visions of organizations, the passions of donors and volunteers and the ambitions of our communities. Philanthropy turns vision into reality.
This Giving Tuesday, MPC is highlighting the big bold vision of Great Rivers Chicago, an initiative for our 150+ miles of riverfront. This vision was articulated by more than 6,000 people from communities up and down the Des Plaines, Chicago and Calumet Rivers. It’s a vision full of possibility and potential: job creation through local entrepreneurs opening riverfront business and the rethinking our riverfront industrial areas; the reversal of public health disparities through more open space for outdoor recreation and programming; and the restoration of habitats along our rivers—just to name a few. Beyond those opportunities for tangible on-the-ground impact, Our Great Rivers can be a catalyst to bring people together around a common goal, which we seem to need right now. The Great Rivers Chicago vision cannot solve all of Chicago’s woes, but our rivers can be an integral part of the solutions.
We can all do something to help lift up those around us and to make our community a better place. During my two decades in nonprofit work, I have never wavered in my belief that we can all make a difference, and I have never regretted my career choice. On the contrary, my conviction around the importance of philanthropy and my appreciation for its rewards have only grown. Being part of the MPC team enables me to give back to a city that has given me and my family so much, a city I will always call home.
As we celebrate Giving Tuesday 2016 and as we look to 2017, I want to extend my gratitude to our donors, volunteers and partners who contribute to MPC in countless ways. Thank you for your unwavering commitment and generosity of spirit. I look forward to the year ahead.
On Nov. 29, come together for a stronger Chicagoland. >>