To Feel Good, Do Good!
Photography by Meg Niemann | @MSNPhotography
Philanthropy has always been a huge part of my life, and over the years I’ve recognized the power philanthropy has to completely change lives and make the world a better place. Growing up, my parents strongly instilled the idea that philanthropic involvement was extremely important, and sent me and my siblings to a Quaker school where it was part of our daily schedule to volunteer.
I remember first getting to college and wondering why philanthropy wasn’t integrated into our schedules there, so I quickly found myself looking to join a local organization where I could volunteer regularly. I learned that in order for me to feel fulfilled internally, volunteering my time to help others was always going to play a major role in my life — and I’m proud of that!
When starting my lifestyle brand, I knew I wanted to create a platform that would ultimately serve a greater purpose than to just share my passion for fashion, beauty, and the arts. I wanted to create a platform that actually had the power to influence others, and to help others for the greater good. These past few years have been a crazy learning curve for me in discovering who I am and what I want to do with my life, but if there’s been one consistency throughout it all, it’s that I’ve always wanted philanthropy to serve as a foundation for what I stand for.
Last year, one of my main goals of the new year was to play a bigger role in charitable organizations. Since then, I’ve joined the board of the Make a Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children diagnosed with critical illnesses.
In Quaker school, one of our volunteer projects was to donate holiday presents for children who were sick in the hospital, and I remember feeling so helpless and so guilty that I couldn’t do anything more to help them. So when I had the opportunity to volunteer with Make a Wish a few years ago, I knew it was the perfect organization for me to get involved with. Helping to make a wish come true for a child with a terminal illness seemed like the perfect way to give back.
As a native New Yorker, City Harvest and the Coalition for the Homeless are two other charities I am very passionate about. Donating your time to local philanthropies is a great way to give back to your community. I feel very lucky that there are not days where I have to worry about where I’ll be getting my next meal, or whether or not I’ll have a roof over my head on a cold winter night, but many New Yorkers do not have that comfort.
It’s important we give back to our communities, and to use all the power we have to influence others to do the same. I love New York, it’s my favorite city in the entire world. It’s my home. And I will do everything I can to help other New Yorkers feel comfortable.
For me, the most important part about being an influencer is having the power to influence — and I believe we should use that power to help others. This holiday season, and every season (regardless if there’s a holiday involved), it’s important we all share a little bit of what we have with those around us, especially those that need it most.
As a social influencer in the fashion world, I do my best to support ethical fashion brands whose proceeds benefit philanthropies. For example, brands like TOMS, who donates one pair of shoes to those in need each time a pair is sold, seamlessly merges fashion and philanthropy — something I can fully get behind.
I also love Alice and Olivia’s involvement with the Good+ Foundation, which hosts a toy drive each year to help provide lower-income parents with essential goods they need to raise their children. Seventeen years since it’s founding, almost $42 million worth of items have been donated. The Alice and Olivia brand has done a great job using their influence in the fashion world to help make the world a better place.
There are so many different ways to help out, but my main piece of advice is to find what you’re passionate about and figure out how you can use that passion to help others. I truly believe that a little really does go a long way!