My parents taught me about giving from a young age. I grew up in a big family of seven kids in Maine, and generosity was a key lesson. We were taught to give of yourself and your time, and sometimes, you give until it hurts. When my parents passed away, our family established a scholarship at the University of Maine in their memory from a donor advised fund.
My wife, Megan, and I have sought to continue that legacy. Our hope is threefold: instructing our family, impacting our community, and inspiring our neighbors to take action. We make it a priority to teach our children how and where to give based on one’s values. Philanthropy is a learned practice. I love the quote by Mahatma Gandhi that sums it up well, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in others.”
We have lived in Alexandria for 29 years, and have recognized the needs around us. We had been giving to local charities in the DMV since our early 20s – both personally and through Megan’s design business of 25 years. Over time, we have been fortunate to be able to do more and spread our impact further.
So a few years ago, I asked a dear friend where we might be able to have a broader impact in the community. He immediately mentioned ACT for Alexandria. I knew of ACT through Spring2Action, but I didn’t know what they did beyond that.
In the last three years, it has been a real honor to give of my time, expertise, and love for our fellow residents here in the community. I appreciate how ACT is connected to so many nonprofits in Alexandria. ACT gave us an opportunity to have a broader reach to target many more in need in addition to the many local non profits we have had the pleasure to assist. Ultimately, Megan and I made the decision to make a legacy gift through ACT to make sure the money goes back into the community.
We are especially committed to helping families and children in Alexandria. It breaks our hearts to see families working hard, but still impacted by challenges with childcare, transportation, and more. Even $100 can make the difference of whether to eat or make a car payment.
Finally, our hope is that neighbors will become aware and ACT – by taking action! I think we tend to forget that small amounts of money can greatly impact someone who is struggling. If you want to make a single impact, give to ACT. It is connected to more than 180 nonprofits in Alexandria, and I guarantee you will find yourself by giving to others.
Peter Madigan is an ACT board member, chair of the Development Committee, and a champion for ACT.