We all know that mental health is NOT just about what happens in a therapist’s office.
It is something that we individually work for and inspire others to strive for every single day. We can’t do that alone. So, as of today we are officially partnering with Passion Impact, a budding nonprofit organization in Portland, Oregon.
This is how it will work:
- Check out the following article, detailing their important work and Where I Stand’s partnership.
- Click in the Green Join the Movement Button that will take you to Passion Impacts Donate Page.
- Select 20$ (or more if you wish)
- Select “tribute” and fill in #Whereistand and your name.
- The Passion Impact team will stand on a street corner holding a large sign saying “Mental Health Matters #Whereistand” as part of our #MentalHealthMatters Canvas Program
- Passion Impact will send us a picture of them holding a sign with that important message for EACH and every one of you that donates.
- Make sure you put Where I Stand in the tribute section with you when you donate.
- With your 20$ contributions Passion Impact is going to give us photos of individuals standing on the streets of Portland sporting our message.
- AND they will make a video for us so that we can further spread the truth that Mental Health Matters.
We can’t change the conversation about mental health alone. Let’s partner with Passion Impact to make a difference, one sign at a time.
As the college federal ranking system enters the forefront of higher education, and people are asking the question “Is our system of higher education doing its job?” I laugh. I laugh, because well, no, our colleges and universities are not doing their jobs. I sadly smile, because this entire system of measurement, ranking, and move toward standardization will only get us further from answering that question. It will also move us in the opposite direction of assisting our colleges and universities
in educating our nation’s youth. So, I ultimately grimace because I struggle to believe that we’ll ever get it right. But I do know someone who is doing something to make some right and bring light to education: Passion Impact. It is a new nonprofit organization focused on inspiring collegiate volunteerism.
Let me tell you why.
If you close your eyes and picture “college life,” what do you see? Do you envision late nights in the library for paper writing and study groups? Maybe you’re imagining inquisitive young adults, engaging in scholarly talks with mentors in their chosen and beloved fields; eager to participate and learn and become more informed citizens in this world.
However, if you’ve been to college or a university, you’re probably not visualizing any of that.
Although, you needn’t even attend a University to know what goes on there. Anyone who has a television, computer, smartphone or any sort of print-media has access to a very different side of the life of a University student; a darker side, but, unfortunately, also a real side. College students are at an increased risk for mental health concerns and suicide, sexual assault, and astronomical amounts of student debt. It’s no secret that the job market isn’t promising, so it’s pressuring students into the fields that have the highest possible chance for employment and earning potential, regardless of interest.
Even so, it is well known that a college degree is the surest way to a future of success; so bypassing it in today’s climate is risky at best. Luckily most seventeen-year-olds are eager to jump in freshmen year of university life and the wealth freedom it holds. Unfortunately though, many find regret; time wasted and feel passionless (McFarlane, 2010). These feelings are highly correlated with alcohol and drug abuse, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and risky behavior. (White & Jackson; National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
Now, I’m not saying that every student ends up partying and/or miserable as a college student. In fact, I know large numbers of people who love college (or at least parts of it). However, many struggle and even the ones who ‘love’ school find dissatisfaction with a lack of sense of life direction.
My older sister who graduated from college in the Spring of 2008 just last year complained that in all of the educating Universities, there is no practical element that helps you figure out who you are or what your passions are in preparation for post-grad life. Lucky for some students whose education comes with that sort of direct teaching and nursing are two prime examples- though not without their own limitations. Caitlin unfortunately felt no inclination to the medical field or teaching and found great interest in economics. She graduated in three years instead of four and earned her B.S. in economics from George Mason without the slightest clue what she should or could do with it. Naturally, she ended up in sales, has changed jobs a few times and makes a good salary. She still asks herself “Is this really it?” She’s good at a job she hates. “I guess that’s the real world.” She concedes.
As an undergraduate I was in the “1 in 4” or 25% that struggled immensely with mental illness. Daily I fought my depression to find hope and a purpose. Some days I won and others I lost. I often think about how I could have made my college experience more productive, more valuable, more memorable, more meaningful, more worthwhile and well, more educational. There is so much I don’t even remember: included in that are classes, tests, textbooks, and papers. One thing I do remember, however, is tutoring Michelle.I began tutoring during the short time I thought I was going to be a teacher. Every Wednesday I showed up at Thomas Harrison Middle School and worked on Michelle’s math homework with her. I hate math, but I loved spending time with Michelle and encouraging her. I loved that I could give her something even though at the time I felt like I had nothing to offer anyone. Michelle smiled widely each time I saw her. She loved to show me her progress. I will never forget Michelle and the lesson she taught me: that my time was worth more than anything else I had to offer in this world. Upon graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, I enthusiastically took a job that paid me almost nothing. I became an activities counselor at the Shenandoah House, a group home for teenage boys. Instinctively I knew that my time had to matter to someone (for more than just money), thanks to experiences like the one I had with Michelle. I worked like a dog and had little to show for it. At the same time, my co-workers had a running bet to see how long I’d last; hopefully that gives you an idea what type of turnover they experienced. The job was exhausting. I was working with boys who had nothing and no-one and they knew it. My time immediately became worth more than any dollar amount anyone could ever pay me and I found infinite purpose while being poor. This is how I know Passion Impact works.
The current political environment surrounding higher education, the social, behavioral, and educational environment that currently is “college life,” and my sister’s and my own personal experiences all create a narrative that exemplifies why Passion Impact is so invigorating to a system that needs change. The element of education contained in giving time and energy to someone else is invaluable and arguably immeasurable. Stefan Peierls and Bradley Burns founded Passion Impact, and their mission is to encourage and help students build a healthy habit of volunteering. The Passion Impact team completed more than 400 volunteer hours while traveling from Austin Texas to Portland Oregon. During the trip, they worked with over 50 students and are now a 501(c)3 nonprofit, making all donations tax-exempt.
Stefan and Bradley have been joined by photographer, Melinda La Brie, and volunteer research assistant from James Madison University Abby Pasztor; together they are eager to volunteer more, a distinct passion of theirs, but also to inspire others to expand their education through volunteerism and better the world. They are currently growing Passion Impact in Portland and figuring out how to make their biggest impact. Over the next six months, they will be engaged in a listening tour and focusing on growing their programs at the grass-roots level. This means meeting students, exploring and understanding Portland, and identifying the volunteer opportunities that match students’ passions and the city’s needs.
After knowing what can be given, gained, and learned from volunteering, it’s easy to grimace when watching and reading about the upcoming college federal ranking system. It is irrefutable that participating in volunteerism is both good for the mind, spirit and soul of all involved, and it is what we can learn from each other that profoundly impacts our lives.
Thankfully though, this world includes people like Stefan and Bradley: two people who see the real potential of individuals and their ability to learn, do, and serve. However, they haven’t stopped at identifying this idea. They are also working to create a vessel that facilitates volunteerism, and fuels and inspires individual and community development, growth, and imagination. This helps to fill the giant gaps lost in the lack of shared experience and experiential education that plague us all. That is Passion Impact.
Click Below to begin making your difference. #mentalhealthmatters #whereistand
Please visit Passion Impact at:
Articles about Mental Health and Volunteerism: