Jerry Swon has a longstanding interest in volunteering and community involvement.

Tag: perspective

How to Build a Mindset of Inclusion _ Jerry Swon

How to Build a Mindset of Inclusion

Funding a cause can stretch across the global landscape, from arts to science to humanities and everything in between. Philanthropic work touches a variety of lives in a myriad of ways; it’s one of the unique blessings of grant funding in the first place.

One of those groups that are most often touched, but sometimes forgotten, are people with disabilities. Nearly 20% of people in the United States have at least some disability, whether a physical handicap that is evidenced by things such as a wheelchair, or a hidden disability like anxiety or depression. What’s more is that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is a whopping 64%.

The statistics are in, and people with a disability feel more ostracized and stigmatized than ever. Part of the job of being a funder is not only to provide the means by which the world can grow but that people who may feel disenchanted by others can be included as well.

Here are a few ways they can do precisely that:

  1. Encourage Organizations to Adapt. Although funders are not explicitly in charge of the organizations that they support, they still hold a considerable amount of influence on the operations that the entity partakes in. By encouraging – or, to take it a step further and mandating it as a condition of the grant – organizations to make themselves more accessible by providing ramps or socially-safe activities, they can influence a group to become more inclusive.


  1. Communicate Accessibility. One of the struggles that many people with disabilities face is who to contact in case they need to make special accommodations. Provide a number or contact information on all event or program materials that will get people in contact with the proper people. Furthermore, communicate on your material loudly that this organization is striving to be inclusive: anticipate activities or accommodations that people might suggest and describe them in detail.


  1. Prioritize Inclusion. Alongside the central goal of an organization – whether that goal is to spread education, combat poverty, or something else – the funder and the group need to prioritize inclusion among their own ranks. Actively recruit people with disabilities and value them for their vital contribution to their time. Once a group begins to break down the walls that divide us as humans, everything else falls into place.


Lending a Hand While Learning a Lesson

Life is not limited to what we gain, but what we give. More often than not, we get wrapped up in ourselves. We become self-centered, and sometimes we even think the world revolves around us. Lending a hand to your community gives you a jolt of reality. It helps you realize that you are not the only person that matters. When volunteering you not only are helping someone else out but are learning valuable lessons.

Volunteering Broadens Your Perspective

As mentioned before, we can often get wrapped up in ourselves. Our problems, our disappointments, they may seem like the absolute worse at the time. Sometimes it may even feel like the end of the world.

But, when you take a moment to reflect on the lives of others who are living with more significant problems, like homelessness or poverty, your perspective changes. It becomes easier to see your own life in a different light, and you have a lot more to be thankful for. Suddenly, those “big” problems, don’t seem to be that big anymore.

Even Small Changes Can Have an Impact

You don’t have to take on a big project like building a house, every single time that you volunteer. Like big projects, small projects can also offer an impact. Donating clothes, pulling weeds, or even walking an elderly neighbors dog may not seem like they would produce much of an effect, but even these little actions make all the difference.

Donating your old clothes can help someone keep warm. Pulling weeds improves the appearance of the community. Walking an elderly neighbors dog helps give “Fido” the proper exercise that he needs that his owner may not be able to provide. All of these actions produce meaningful reactions. The list of community service projects you can do is endless, and no matter the size they all create an impact.

We all have our own Narrative.

We all come from different backgrounds, with all different stories that describe who and why we are the person we are. As you volunteer, you will meet people from all walks of life. Your volunteer experience can be more fulfilling, by understanding the narratives of others. Not only that, but you become more compassionate and empathetic.

The stories of others help us to understand that all of us, no matter race, size, class, can experience hardships. We all need a little help sometimes that is why it is so important to create a community that is continually supporting each other.

These are only three lessons that volunteering in your community can help you learn. No matter how you volunteer, the experience will shape you immensely, and you will gain the satisfaction knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life.

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