The gift of opportunity

With Christmas just around the corner, I've spent the last few weeks getting into the holiday spirit. Between post-run peppermint mochas, shopping for presents for my family, and decorating the apartment with my roommate, it's been a busy month!
Holiday additions to the apartment
After a short work week, I'll be heading up to the mountains to spend Christmas with my family :) I can't wait!

Christmas tree, complete with running shoe ornament :)
While hitting the mall last week to shop for presents, I started thinking about the many presents Santa has brought me over the years - a new bike, an American Girl doll, a pair of skis, a TV, Southwest giftcards... oh how the things we want change over the years!

I've gotten a lot of great presents (thank you Santa!) but perhaps the biggest gift I've been given is the gift of opportunity. I've had the opportunity to go to college, travel the globe, and pursue my dreams - all incredible blessings that aren't available to a majority of the world's youth. 

I realize how great I've got it and I thank my lucky stars for all the wonderful things in my life. To show my gratitude, I try to find ways to give back. By making the most of the opportunities I've been given, hopefully I can help change the world, one community or one child at a time.

During my college years at UC Davis I founded and directed a student organization called Nourish International, which aims to eradicate poverty by engaging students and empowering communities in the developing world. Nourish is a nationwide movement with chapters at colleges across the country, where students work to educate their campus communities about global poverty while raising funds to support development projects in less developed countries. While at UC Davis, my chapter raised over $12,000 to support agricultural development and nutrition education projects in Ecuador; in 2010 I had the opportunity to volunteer in Ecuador as part of our community development project. As an advocate for collaborative social change initiatives, the Nourish movement remains a cause near and dear to my heart.
Volunteering with Nourish International in Ecuador
Another organization that I'm passionate about is the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center (SNBC), a community development nonprofit that serves the children, youth, and families of San Francisco's Sunset District. Now in it's 15th year, SNBC provides daily afterschool programs to over 900 youth every day, as well as adult educational opportunities to over 300 adults each week. Child by child, family by family, SNBC is connecting people to their passions, providing learning opportunities, and building community. Best of all, they provide all of these services to participants entirely free of cost.

At a community event repping SNBC
The Sunset neighborhood and SNBC are my new home - I live in the Inner Sunset (2 blocks from Golden Gate Park and miles of trails!) and work at SNBC as the Strategic Initiatives Coordinator, supporting the organization's work through development and communications. After spending over a year living and working in this neighborhood, I see the fruits of SNBC's labors firsthand, and the Sunset has come to feel as much like home as good old Davis.

Both Nourish International and SNBC are creating opportunities and working for change, one community and one child at a time. But like all nonprofits, they need your help to continue their great work.

This holiday season, consider giving a gift that doesn't come wrapped in a box.

This year, give the gift of opportunity.

If you're able to, please consider making a donation to the
Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center
Nourish International
and give children, families, and communities in San Francisco and across the globe
the gift of opportunity.

Thanks for supporting these two causes that are near and dear to me!
It means a lot!

Happy holidays!