Just like any other charity in this economy we struggle with getting donations. Maybe it’s the word “donation” that’s part of the problem. When you donate something, it typically gets used up rather quickly, and then you are asked to donate again. I am going to start thinking more in terms of “investment”. After all, in my mind that is what it really is, an investment in our children’s future.

Now that may come off as sounding a bit arrogant, but if I didn’t believe that Kids Are Heroes® could ultimately have a significant impact on the children both in America and across the globe I wouldn’t have put so much effort and time into it since its inception almost five years ago. The organization has accomplished many things in five years, but what we have done has only scratched the surface of what we plan to do once we get funding. Translating the site into multiple languages, developing resources for schools, creating local KAH clubs and hosting more events for heroes in different cities are just some of the plans we have as we grow.

Show Me The Impact

If you are not familiar with Kids Are Heroes, among other things, we showcase children who give back to their community. We have discovered by doing this that it creates an environment where volunteering is “normal” for kids. I liken this to a sky-diving experience I had when I was young. I’m no daredevil but I figured at the time it was a good way to impress a girl I had a crush on. Now jumping out of a plane is a daunting and scary task. However we trained for hours at the facility. As we trained we witnessed plane after plane go up and dump out a bunch of people, all who landed safely. It became “normal” which made it much easier.

Having 300+ children from 10 countries who all do amazing things for others creates a sense of normalcy for the children who visit our site. They are empowered to do something on their own and end up becoming part of the larger Kids Are Heroes community as they themselves are featured.

Why Kids Should Volunteer

Ok so we get kids to volunteer. So what? Well despite the fact that they are helping others, becoming more aware and compassionate, they are all developing critical skills that will benefit them throughout their entire lives. I have seen time after time how the opportunities that are given them help their confidence and self esteem. Once branded a “hero” many of them want to keep that moniker by continuing to do good for others. They are ALL developing leadership skills that will help shape them into better adults. Period. Volunteering with your children is also an excellent opportunity to spend meaningful time together.

Kids Are Heroes Day

We recently celebrated our fifth annual Kids Are Heroes Day here in Frederick, Maryland. Each year we invite all the children from our site to be together and to celebrate what they do. Since they will indeed be leaders in a few years we help them develop their networks early. Some are outcasts and bullied because they are doing something “different”. When these kids meet up with each other they are so gratified that there are indeed other kids like them and their batteries are recharged when they return. Past attendees have come from all over the US, Canada, and even South Africa and Kenya. Here is what one mom had to say about our most recent event:

. . .we would drive hundreds and hundreds of miles (and through storms and states of emergencies) to be a part of your event again. It was INCREDIBLE and we are so impressed at how wonderful the event had turned out. My girls, Julia and Emma Mogus, have bonded with some incredible heroes in your country and ours, including your beautiful and heart warming daughter, MaryMargaret! The entire day and evening was very well organized and we feel privileged to have been a part of this incredible and historical event. We walked away better citizens and with a greater awareness of some of the issues facing our children and communities, both locally and internationally.” -Janet Mogus

I have said many times that Kids Are Heroes started as a father-daughter project. Thanks to our kids it has developed into something well beyond just the two of us. And with the help of others it has the ability to become a beacon for kids all over the world to help them build a better life for themselves and others. Now to me, that sounds like something I want to invest in.

(Original: http://www.justgabe.com/2012/11/30/donation-or-investment/)

Gabe O'Neill - Kids Are Heroes