How I’m teaching my son that giving can be more than just writing a check

Rocks painted by young volunteers at Create the Change Day Boston 2016

In today’s philanthropic world, there seems to be a donation-based formula by default. As a financial advisor, I know the power and importance of making charitable donations. But as a father, I want my son Caden to know that giving back is not just about fundraising.

I want him to know he can give back in so many creative ways. That’s why I am honored to be part of Project Giving Kids.

I’ve seen how much of an impact having fun has in charitable work, having raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity through tournament-style fundraising events.

I helped start an annual basketball event as a teenager, and that event shifted to a Ryder Cup-style golf tournament for friends and family. In 2009, we decided that our little golf event was going to be bigger. We wanted to make a difference. So we started a nonprofit and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the National MS Society and Livestrong, and created and distributed inspirational t-shirts to encourage people to battle through life’s adversities.

And it was so much fun, because we were doing what we loved.

After 25 years of working with so many inspiring people, my business partner and I decided to take a break from it, and I focused solely on my career as a financial advisor.

But once you feel the love and joy of giving back, you can’t just give it up.

Soon the void became palpable, and I was energized to connect with a cause I could sink my teeth into. I tried a number of ways to volunteer for different organizations, but nothing seemed quite right. So, I promised myself I’d find an organization whose message truly hit home with me.

It was a client who introduced me to Molly Yuska and Project Giving Kids. I was amazed that one small nonprofit could directly benefit so many others! But what really hit me was that Project Giving Kids is all about teaching kids important values I share, like empathy and kindness, in practical ways. And it showed me where there were volunteer opportunities for kids near me, and ways for kids to volunteer from home.

I also love that it teaches families like mine that volunteering with your kids, having fun and giving back together, is actually a really great way to bond and grow closer, and help our kids learn to live our values.

I’m proud to now be on the advisory board for an organization that teaches our youth to can give back in so many creative ways.