Help! (They Need Somebody)

Ah yes, end-of-year giving. Time to complete the great circle of philanthropy: You made some so you give some.

If you’re looking for guidelines—how much and to whom?—Google is no help. Search “charities” like I just did and you’ll get 93,400,000 hits. Really.

Happily, some wonderful people and organizations have come through the Cherry Street Agency door or have otherwise caught our attention. As a result, we can vouch for this: If end-of-year giving opportunities are what you seek, you can do no better than to support the efforts of any or all of these three unique non-profit groups to create a cleaner, safer, more interesting  and engaging world.

The Wisconsin Museum of Broadcasting is an online repository of print, images and videos related to the history of radio and television (public and commercial) in this state. We’re talking bygone days of radio transmitters. And local children’s programming. And television weather maps with yellow circles of felt representing the sun. There’s nothing like this museum anywhere else in the world, virtual or real. Bonus: to donate you get to click on a “We Interrupt This Program” commercial as a nod to bygone days when such announcements really did precede commercials.

The Clean Lakes Alliance advances an idea—reduce weed-feeding phosphorus in our lakes by 50 percent—whose time has come. Finally (finally!) all stakeholders are at the table: environmental, industry, agriculture, government, science, education, community, civic. If you know anything about politics in Madison and Dane County, you know what a feat this is. To help, you can donate financial support at their website. Or you can click to donate sweat equity to an actual lake by participating in CLA clean-up and outreach projects. Of course, you’ll want to do both, because one look at a map of the Yahara Watershed will show you that, really, we all live on waterfront property.

Violence Unsilenced is such a simple, profound project. Simply, it is a blog where survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse and sexual assault tell their stories. Profoundly, the most important thing you can do is not to provide financial support, it is to listen. Think that’s easier than a donation? Ha! This type of violence either affects you and you know it, or it affects you and you don’t know it. There is no other option. That’s how pervasive it is. Either way, the stories are shattering. And you will need to do some shattering of your own in response, and that is not an easy thing, by any stretch. So psych yourself up and go bearing respect to this blog, where survivors tell their stories. If you listen—if you read these stories and if you take the annual pledge to bear witness and if you tell the survivors that you heard what they said—you, yes you personally, will shatter a silence that has been someone’s hell on earth for far too long.

From the simple to the profound, it’s been an amazing year on Cherry Street. We wish you happy giving, happy living, and a Happy New Year.

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