- 26 March 2014
- by Megan Foo
Passionate about volunteering, I can affirm that service has offered me so much - namely valuable collaborative skills, the courage to lead fundraising initiatives, and a deep-rooted interest in helping others realize their rights and potential. Above all, my service experiences have imbued me with a lifelong belief; the belief that I can make a difference in the world here and today. I need not wait, in the words of William Butler Yeats, to strike when the iron is hot, but instead make it hot by striking.
But what about the people who are unable to strike the iron due to a lack of resources and funding? Wouldn’t the sonorous cadence that emanates from struck iron then be muted? Wouldn’t the reservoir of great promise that is youth volunteerism regrettably dry up? Mac Winslow, Co-Founder and President of Start A Snowball, understands this quandary and resourcefully tries to eliminate it. With the mission of inspiring and providing funding for youth to engage in their own service projects, Start A Snowball hopes to help youth amplify their voices on their service activities, and let exemplary project ideas come to fruition through grants. The hope is that youth will acquire an understanding of the power of service, which will engender a dynamic culture of volunteer mobility that extends to their adult lives.
Mac Winslow and the rest of the Start A Snowball community believe that “in order to improve the world and tackle the problems facing our society, we need to build a culture of service and a generation of givers. To do this, we have to start with children”. Mac’s oldest son provided the momentum for Start A Snowball’s founding by spearheading “a week-long food drive” that reached a pinnacle when he collected approximately 1400 pounds of food and over $300 so that students in his school and their families could be properly fed over Spring Break. “We were inspired by the impact one child with a little support could have on a problem that concerned him. We believe that all children have this ability inside of them, and we want to help them realize it,” Mac asserts, with a veracity that could not radiate more brightly.
Indeed, an investment in youth volunteerism produces manifold returns. The independence to effect change around an issue that speaks volumes to them, the exposure to meaningful leadership experiences and the development of a sense of community are only three of these dividends. Youth certainly have limitless potential, and should they be armed with the adequate resources, they can make the difference of tomorrow, today. Since Start A Snowball’s launch in February this year, it has supplied grants for projects including fundraising projects to raise classroom and dental supplies for children in Haiti, anti-bullying campaigns, book drives, and teen volunteer programs working with the elderly. In Mac’s words, “We want to encourage and fund projects that are going to make a difference [...] and of course they need to be led by kids”.
In addition to applying for service grants, youth can get involved with Start A Snowball by utilizing “the resources on [Start A Snowball’s] website to identify ideas and opportunities for community service”. They can also be part of the movement to further volunteer dynamism among youth by spreading the word about Start A Snowball and its grants. “We live in a social media driven society, and we need youth and adults alike to spread the word about what we are doing, and build a groundswell of support and grant applicants,” Mac advocates. Start A Snowball also wants to hear about other stories of youth doing good in their communities. “We ask people to come to our site to share their inspiring stories; we can use them to inspire others.”