Nicole Russell Interview
Giving back and volunteering does not have to be an inconvenience.
Nicole, Founder of Precious Dreams Foundation
Why is giving back important to you?
There is no other act that makes me feel closer to God than reaching out to help people in need. I know that I cannot thrive on my own and somehow we expect people in difficult situations to just figure things out. I give back because I know some people don't have the access or resources to pursue their dreams and have a fair shot at finding success. I don't feel like I've ever received anything that other people don't deserve and I know firsthand that small acts of kindness can change someone's life, so I simply give back what was given to me. I'm particularly passionate about instilling values of compassion, self-awareness, and support to our youth. Once they help themselves they'll hopefully grow up and "pay it forward" by giving back to people in the ways that were given to them.
How will you shift the culture through your philanthropic endeavors?
It's already shifting. Think of how quickly the content trends on social media change. In the beginning, an Instagram account most likely displayed the best shot of 15 selfie attempts, good news or a place to display a person's career and interest. Now, philanthropist and activist are using social media to highlight the needs of our communities and problems within our society. Millennials are less selfish and more self-aware. We're so familiar with the people that we follow that we're now logging in to see what knowledge or experiences those people have to offer us. I'm fully aware that I can spread awareness for causes online and I'm aggressively cleaver with my post. I'll share something visually stimulating but then build awareness by telling a story or dropping statistics in the caption of the photo. I'm forcing people to see beyond themselves and so many others are starting to do the same. I share my philanthropic endeavors to make people subconsciously aware of those in need and give them the option to get involved when they're ready.
As far as my efforts shifting culture within the community - that's happening with every event, exchange of energy, hug, and conversation. You have to believe in the value of your knowledge and time. People create a culture based on beliefs but children are looking to adults to figure out what that even means. Being in the community and showing compassion not only shifts the culture, it impacts the world.
What is the biggest myth about giving back and volunteering that needs to be debunked?
Giving back and volunteering does not have to be an inconvenience. There's a quote I love by Edmund Burke, "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little." Companies like Amazon Smile and corporations that you work for will make the donation on your behalf and at no cost. Hold your companies accountable for their social responsibilities and inquire about them supporting a cause that's important to you. If you have no interest or time to interact with people you can make a financial contribution or any size. Be honest about what you can offer and focus more on what you can do rather than what you can't. There are many organizations that don't require significant time commitments. Giving back at your convenience is still giving back and always appreciated!
What is your organization’s biggest need and how can people support?
We really need volunteers that can offer a skill that will enable the organization to grow. We're always looking for assistance with grant research, writing, photography, graphic design and soliciting in-kind donations. We're also looking for committed volunteers in the NY, Los Angeles, Baltimore and South Florida area that has experience working with children and can help us further develop programs that provide mental health benefits to youth in need.
Continue the sentence... I give too because...
I give back too because it's my way of saying thanks to God.
I give back too because being aware that people are suffering and turning the blind eye is a selfish way to live.