Cambrian: Opinion

How far would 1 percent giving go?

Kathy Brown helps fold donated clothes at a recent Native Daughters of the Golden West, El Pinal 163 Christmas dinner.
Kathy Brown helps fold donated clothes at a recent Native Daughters of the Golden West, El Pinal 163 Christmas dinner. Special to The Cambrian

The new year will give you the opportunity to join an elite group — the 1 percenters — and your monetary wealth is unimportant.

The website says that Cambria’s median household income is about $65,085. Imagine the possibilities during 2016 if 100 Cambrians committed $650 each to a local nonprofit.

Curious about this hypothetical windfall, I asked three local nonprofits what $65,000 could mean to their operation.

Connie Gannon, executive director for Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust, envisions “matching funds for land acquisition, maintenance for some of our properties without endowments, and our new and ongoing educational programs in the schools and in the community.”

“Plus, we would use at least half of such funding as a challenge match for individual major gifts to provide Greenspace with a permanent fund that supports our many ongoing organizational functions.

“Such seed money would help us to expand our services to the community and our capacity to fulfill the Greenspace mission of land protection, environmental education and advocacy for the well-being of our local watersheds.”

What if the Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon Bay received a $65,000 windfall? The center’s program coordinator, Carolyn Skinder, shared her wish list.

“We could do the following for the Coastal Discovery Center and our community: Triple the number of volunteers at our center in order to be open every day of the week during busy months, to lead outdoor activities at the pier, the beach and San Simeon Point (with permission) for the public; serve more school groups who want to partake in school activities here; set up a weather station and oceanography station on the pier, including hydrophone and animal cam; feed real-time data to the public on weather, underwater sounds in San Simeon Cove and ocean observation buoys off-shore into the Coastal Discovery Center; plus hire two full-time staff to help with all of the above!”

“Beautify Cambria would use money for projects such as its new trash/recycling/planter receptacles around town. We’re adding cigarette tubes to them for cigarette butts and plan to pressure-wash the sidewalks,” according to group member Christine Heinrichs.

Collective giving is powerful. For instance, the preliminary report for this year’s #GivingTuesday noted, “Donors gave $116.7 million to charity on Giving Tuesday, signaling a significant boost from last year’s donation total.”

92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association and the United Nations Foundation created the event in 2012. Now, on just one day, worldwide, thousands of people showcased the human heart’s shine.

The gift of time is golden. I calculated an average person’s 1 percent time would equal about 36 hours a year, or three hours a month (subtracting sleep and personal time).

Giving time can be as simple or as complex as you desire.

When I thought about how you can give without running the whole show, yet contribute a priceless service, Cambria’s 1 percenter (plus), Kathleen Brown came to mind. I met Brown when she hosted a fundraising meeting at her home. She offered a downstairs bedroom for us to store incoming silent auction donations. Stacks of gifts for underprivileged children already stuffed her garage. She provided a valuable need — free storage.

Brown began volunteering in the 1980s at a hospital information desk. Since her full-time residency in Cambria, you might have seen her as a docent and/or board member for the Hearst Castle living docent program, Friends of the Elephant Seal and the Cambria Historical Society. She’s given her time as the welcoming face at the Cambria Chamber of Commerce, Santa Rosa Church, various fundraisers and local theater, to name just a few.

“I do this because it is fun,” she told me. “The different groups give me an opportunity to mix with different people and make new friends.”

We turn the page next week. This year’s end was deeply marred. It’s my wish that we take the opportunity to continue working with and for each other.

Consider joining this exclusive club, and watch the difference we can make by the way we give.

Cambria resident Charmaine Coimbra is a journalist, blogger and volunteer coordinator. Her monthly column is special to The Cambrian.