Something On The Horizon

BPM 2015 Logo

In just one month, August arrives and global observances of Black Philanthropy Month begin!

Black Philanthropy Month (BPM 2015) is an unprecedented, coordinated initiative to strengthen African American and African-descent giving in all its forms.

News in 2015 seems an unrelenting series of tragedies, injustices and conflicts, mixed with a few moments and events that restore hope and resound as calls to action. This year, August can’t come soon enough.

My wish is that BPM 2015 provides us all with time to connect, celebrate, learn, reflect, renew, give and heed the call (whatever yours might be) amid a season of change and progress as “lovers of humankind”. In collaboration with Jackie Copeland-Carson of the Pan African Women’s Philanthropy Network, Tracey Webb of BlackGivesBack.com and others, I look forward to hearing about and amplifying STORIES of generosity, IDEAS for social change, LEADERSHIP on issues, SERVICE to others, DONATIONS to important causes AND MORE. 

Please follow our BPM Facebook page and our primary hashtags for Black Philanthropy Month: ‪#‎BPM2015‬ and ‪#‎blackgivingmatters‬. And if you’d like to have your city proclaim August as Black Philanthropy Month (like we did last year), please let me know and I’ll provide you with further info and a template.

#peoplegetready #seasonofchange #blackgivingmatters #bpm2015iscoming

— VF

To Touch A Soul

The community’s interest and show of support at Friday’s closing reception for The Soul of Philanthropy‬ exhibition at the Johnson C. Smith University library was deeply moving. Some folks who attended the opening event in February returned to see it again. A few of them brought along a friend or family member this time.

The experience was affirming in many ways, particularly in the context of such hot days and heated times. Outside temperatures soared beyond 90 degrees and inside the library’s air conditioner was out (our Giving Back hand fans were, indeed, handy). And just the day before, news broke about the horrific shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where JCSU administrator Malcolm Graham lost his sister in the massacre.

Given the atmosphere, we were astounded and further heartened by an occurrence at the end of the event. A man unknown to Charles arrived and handed him a sealed white envelope and inside the typed letter read:

Dear NGAAP:IMG_1557

Enclosed you will find a check for $1,000.00 in honor of [name of NGAAP member] and “The Soul of Philanthropy” exhibition at JCSU. In light of the hateful, racist and tragic events visited upon the victims, their families and the church in Charleston, SC this week, it is my earnest hope that the exhibit’s national tour might educate and change lives in unknown and unknowable ways, maybe even profoundly touching a soul in such a manner that turns hate to love.
Respectfully,
JM
More than ever, we aspire that “The Soul of Philanthropy” serve as an instrument in a triumphant movement of conscious giving for social change. #‎LoveGiveGoDo‬

These Times

My mind, spinning,

the heart, quickening,

both fixed on the kin,

the Christian 

brethren,

the American

countrymen

and women

of the Charleston

killing’s

victims.

Amen.

— ava wood

soul of philanthropy quotes_times that try mens souls

pretty petals: poem + pics

clouds snowy bright ride

across skies seldom bluer

beneath petals preen 

— ava wood

VF photos from opening day (May 31, 2015) of the Mellichamp Native Terrace, a new part of UNC Charlotte’s Botanical Gardens that displays native plants in a home landscape.

Another Year To Celebrate!

Keep Calm 9th Anniv Temp imageWe released an e-newsletter today to mark the ninth year of New Generation of African American Philanthropists—the Charlotte-based giving circle behind Giving Back and The Soul of Philanthropy. Click here to check out our latest news.

A World of Good

Shanghai Travelers' Club_VF June 2015

Goodness gracious!!!

Two words: page 93

98 Days of Love

Love at first sight.

A dream for years, the outdoor, interactive walls of The Soul of Philanthropy exhibit were installed on February 18 (two days before the exhibition’s opening) outside the venerable façade of Biddle Hall—the heart of Johnson C. Smith University. In pure ecstasy, at the sight of a dream come true, I, along with a flurry of snowflakes, danced about and melted at the site. My long labor of love, about the love of humanity, had manifested a momentary monument to love itself.

For 98 days, my giant love magnet drew to its walls crews of JCSU students, curious campus guests and social media-savvy visitors to the exhibition in the library’s gallery. Every day a fresh canvas, the walls invited, captured, presented, broadcast and reframed portraits of philanthropy.

Yesterday—after our grand opening event, the snow left, springtime arrived, founders week passed, commencement ended and nearly a semester on campus—the “love walls” came down. You’re sure to see the structure (and bits of colored chalk) pop up some place new soon. In the meantime, below is a photo slideshow from the 98-day reign of LOVE at Smith.

Treasure

Me, dad, mom and sis

found, on road to Outer Banks,

vaults of inner bliss.

ava wood 

Struggle, Strength and Striving

EIGHTThe number 8 in the Bible represents a new beginning—meaning a new order or creation—and, in general, a numeral rich in symbolism. I’m alert to the fact that last week marked eight years since the idea for Giving Back came as a gift to me while at a conference in Seattle. The Giving Back Project launched that night, if only in my imagination for the first few months. Since April 2007, a lot has occurred. Gully lows. Mountain highs. Jagged trails. Leaps of faith. Dreams realized. Some deferred. And still constant aspiration and so much more to do.

In its eighth year, the Giving Back Project is indeed set to begin again with Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited embarking on a national tour to museums and galleries at public libraries and colleges. In hopes of never forgetting the struggle, strength and striving that delivered me and the project to another new threshold, I’ve posted below the “Author’s Notes” from Giving Back, which I wrote while filled with gratitude just before the book was published.


Author’s Notes from Giving Back

Grace is a gift always welcome. And I was showered with grace while developing Giving Back. When I first conceived of the idea, zeal and naivety blinded me to its magnitude. I thought it would take a year to develop the book; instead it led me on a four-and- a-half-year odyssey that proved both torturous and joyous.

At times, doubts would swarm with stinging questions about whether the vision was attainable. I questioned whether I was up to the sacrifices and risks that seeing it through seemed to require of me. People I spoke with believed in the project; they saw the significance of documenting authentic stories and producing a socially relevant book. This helped fend off some of my fears. Even with dispiriting episodes, I could never suppress for long the call of these stories.

Interviewing people was a privilege and extraordinarily gratifying; yet the gravity of the undertaking weighed heavily on me too. Each set of interview notes seemed so delicate. I gained deeper recognition of how precious each story was and how potent it could become if I possessed the wherewithal to craft a compelling body of work and get it in front of readers.

I felt like a surrogate entrusted to carry not one but scores of seeds, each exceptional, fragile and bundling possibilities. Humbled and often daunted, I knew I had to take care in crafting each story with due reverence. Demanding equal finesse was clearing an uncertain path to bring the book’s narrative and photographic content out of the obscurity of our families, our communities and my laptop into the light of the wider world. Guidance, often from unexpected people and places, came at each crossroad.

Always brightening the journey were the hopes and confidence expressed by family, friends and giving circle members. I remember the excitement of Ohmar, Renee and Rashad when they first heard my idea while on a road trip to a Black philanthropy conference. I think about Aunt Dora’s smile upon learning she inspired the book. I recall early conversations with Charles about my vision and the alignment of our artistic aspirations. Collaboration with Charles has been a God-sent steadying force, from his initial blind faith in the project to his ease, professionalism and quiet generosity.

The most beautiful gift while writing this book was being immersed in its content. I couldn’t help but become re-inspired when each day required me to delve into literally hundreds of narratives and photographs meant to inspire and motivate —I call it chicken and dumplings for the giver’s soul. Gratitude bubbles over when I look back on the gracious acts that brought Giving Back into being. Without a doubt God’s grace is greatest, but grace granted by the people around me was wonderfully sweet too.

— VF


And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.  Leviticus 25:22

Bursting

Witness God’s green work

Entrust your seed to the earth

Bloom, bloom, blossom burst

— ava wood