Secular Tithing 2014

One of my life list goals is to give 10% of income to charity for one year – something I’ve been thinking of as “secular tithing”. I’m still a long way from that goal, but I decided to start this year by giving 1% of my take home pay to charity. Just trying to get in the habit of giving regularly. In 2015, I hope to up it to 2% and then maybe in a decade, I’ll be up to my goal amount. 🙂 Here is who I gave money to this year:

January: DC Central Kitchen
I hoped to focus my money locally this year (although you will see, I didn’t always), so I started with DC Central Kitchen, a wonderful organization that serves dual roles as a provider of meals to homeless shelters and transitional housing, and as a vocational program, training unemployed individuals for culinary careers.

February: Russia Freedom Fund
I love to watch the Olympics, but Russia’s treatment of LGBT individuals is truly horrifying, so I felt I needed to so something to offer some support and solidarity to queer folks in Russia, hence this gift.

March: St. Baldrick’s
My cousin shaved her head to support children’s cancer research, making this an easy choice for my March contribution!

April: Columbia Heights Community Market
Donations to this farmer’s market are used to provide matching funds for food stamp purchases – doubling the amount of fresh produce that those recipients can buy!

May: DC Abortion Fund
The DC Abortion Fund provides grants to women who cannot afford the full cost of an abortion. My gift in May was specifically to support a woman who was having to travel from out of state because she couldn’t get the procedure she needed where she lived, an all too common occurrence these days as a woman’s right to chose is restricted more and more.

June: ScholarCHIPS
ScholarCHIPs is a wonderful organization, founded by the granddaughter of the Education Director of Frances’ daycare. They offer college scholarships to children of incarcerated parents (CHIPs). This is generally a great idea, but became more relevant after I had federal jury duty in June. We convicted the individual charged, who had three children. Although convinced of his guilt and that our decision was just, it really struck me the effect that his incarceration would have on his family, and this seemed like a good concrete way to try to make life better for those affected – the innocent bystanders of the criminal justice system, if you will. If you are aware of other great organizations that support the children of incarcerated parents, please let me know!

July: Donors Choose: Barnard Elementary
I love Donors Choose – there is something so satisfying about funding projects for students/teachers. Barnard Elementary is our neighborhood DCPS school and even before I started my 1% project this year, I’ve tried to help fund at least one project a year.

August: Mary’s Center
Mary’s Center is a local non-profit that provides health care, social services and family literacy support. I gave to them though, for their support/creation of Briya Public Charter School, which I read about in the Washington Post and was totally inspired by!

September: Donor’s Choose: Barnard Elementary
Couldn’t decide who I wanted to give to this month, so I just went back to Donors Choose and found a different project at Barnard that needed funds.

October: Gilchrist Hospice
This was a donation that I gave in memory of a coworker’s mother. I will always support hospices though – they do great work, easing the end of our lives and supporting the families of the dying. So important.

November: ArchCity Defenders
Like a lot of folks, I have really been disturbed by what has happened this year at the intersection of race and law enforcement. This article in the Washington Post encouraged me to support ArchCity Defenders who represent low-income clients who are dealing with what can only be described as harassment (and a poverty tax) by their municipal governments.

December: Capital Area Food Bank
Another gift inspired by a Washington Post article. Given the struggles that many folks in our area are having getting enough to eat, it seemed especially important to give to the Food Bank this month.

Secular Tithing 2014

What I Read: November 2014

I read 4 books in November – 2 fiction, 2 non-fiction, all on my Kindle.

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman (2012).
This memoir was fascinating, horrifying and myopic in the way that you might expect of a 25 year old who has lived her life in a very sheltered religious community. It was sort of amazing to me just how very sheltered a person who lived in Brooklyn could be. Worth reading if you are interested in the Satmar/Hasidism/strict religious communities.

The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper (2010).
I listened to the first book in this YA series (trilogy? Are all the cool kids doing trilogies these days?) as an audiobook. I liked this book better, and I’m not sure if it’s because I just preferred reading it, or if the book was actually better. In this book, the FitzOsbornes (royal family of the fictional island nation of Montmaray) have been exiled in England after the Germans bombed their home to smithereens.

Delicious!: A Novel by Ruth Reichl (2014).
I’ve read and enjoyed all of Reichl’s memoirs, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about her fiction. Happily I liked it! Billie Breslin moves to New York and begins working for the soon-to-go-defunct culinary magazine Delicious! There are great descriptions of food and a lovely romance subplot, plus a World War II mystery… basically it was a little fluffy, but such a quick enjoyable read for me. It would be perfect for the beach or a plane!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014).
Let’s just all agree now that Amy Poehler is the kickass, feminist, funny, smart best friend/older sister that we all wish we had. Her book is good. If you like Amy Poehler, you should read it.

What I Read: November 2014