By Katie Jessup
I love this time of year, everyone is in such a giving mood. The members of Junior League of Champaign Urbana (JLCU) are no different. Every month at the monthly meeting the organization collects items for a local charity and the months of November and December are perhaps our most successful every year. For these two months the organization collected unwrapped toys and gifts for Salt & Light Ministries.
In November Nathan Montgomery, the Executive Director of Salt & Light, came to the meeting to discuss the new direction that the organization was taking. The new vision statement for Salt & Light is:
Our programming is rooted in the belief that everyone has skills, talents, gifts, and abilities given to them by God. Our intention is to work with each person – instead of for them – to identify each of these things, and to increase their capacity to use them for themselves, their family, and their community.
This foundation comes from a principle found in Toxic Charity which states “we should not do for others what they have the capacity to do for themselves.” By doing for others what they can do for themselves, you disempower them and strip them of their dignity.
We believe that one of the first steps in restoring dignity is to develop systems of reciprocity, or give and take. In most one-way giving models we unconsciously communicate that the person has nothing we need, or nothing of value to contribute to the “transaction.”
This is damaging to their sense of self. However by creating systems in which we offer opportunities for the person to contribute towards acquiring the needed resources, we reinforce their capacity to do so, and they gain the sense of pride that comes from providing for themselves and their family.
Their mission echoes what Junior League of Champaign-Urbana has always strived to accomplish with each new project. The purpose of Junior League Bright Starts, our most recent project, is to educate those who value education and are eager to participate and contribute. We work towards filling needs in the community, but also for individuals to grow and be empowered by the process.
This DIAM collected close to 80 new toys in November and December to be delivered to Salt & Light for the holidays. Thank you to our membership for your support and generosity.