Giver Spotlight - Mark LoGrippo

I have known Mark LoGrippo for ten years (whew, that went by quickly!). When I began my job at Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC managing corporate mentoring programs, Mark was already well established in his role as a Big Brother. Through the years that I oversaw his program, Mark was an active volunteer and a mentor for his fellow Bigs. He was always willing to participate in even the wackiest of activities!

Mark's giving has evolved from mentoring youth to serving his community as an elected official! Mark is incredibly positive, humble, a family man, and a giver to his core. When I first reached out to him to see if he was willing to participate, his response was, "It is just how I live my life but thanks for thinking of me this way."

Thank you, Mark, for taking the time to chat with us for today's post!

What areas of giving are you involved with (past/present)?

I was truly humbled when you asked me if I would like to be spotlighted on your blog.

I had the opportunity to be a Verizon Big Brother through its Corporate Mentoring Program from 2005 thru 2014. Being a “Big Brother” was an extremely rewarding and gratifying experience. I still keep in touch with my first Little Brother who now has a family of his own. I loved being a Big Brother because I felt I was making a positive impact on a young person’s life. Each year we would raise money for The Big Brothers Big Sisters Annual Fundraiser which is “Race for the Kids”. Personally I was able to raise $25,000.00 based on the generosity of friends, neighbors, relatives, and fellow co-workers. Although I am no longer involved with the program, I have very fond memories that will last me a lifetime.

Mark with his two beautiful children, Gemma & Francesco "Cecco at the Race for the Kids.

Mark with his two beautiful children, Gemma & Francesco "Cecco at the Race for the Kids.

Mark and Team Verizon!

Mark and Team Verizon!

Today, most of my volunteering is closer to home in the Town of Westfield, New Jersey. In 2011, I was elected as the Third Ward Town Councilperson and was re-elected this past November for a second term. Westfield is the largest town in NJ where the elected officials are volunteers.

Being a Councilman requires on average 10 hours a week attending various meetings and being available to fellow residents to address community’s needs. As a councilperson, I am appointed to a number of committees including the Public Safety and Town Code Review Committees.

I also participate as a volunteer at the Westfield area Y on the International Committee and am excited about a new venture involving teaming up with the YMCA of the Cayman Islands. The collaborative involves supporting staff and program offerings including advisement and training materials.  Other global initiatives by this International Committee include providing life skills training for at-risk youth living in Thailand through the "Save a Child" program.

Who/what played/plays a role in your spirit of giving and how?

I was born and raised in Long Island and as an only child, I was particularly close to my parents growing up. I was raised to appreciate family and community, having a strong character was very important to my parents. I was blessed to have friends and extended family, I was taught to respect others and had many role models to emulate.

What do you enjoy most about giving?

What I like most about volunteering in my town is having a positive impact on the community. It is my hope that I am making a difference in the Town of Westfield and helping to give back to a community that has given me so much.

How do you incorporate giving into your family life/with your kids?

My wife Maria and I try to teach our children those same core values and most importantly, to respect others. I think we demonstrate for our children a strong sense of volunteerism and the value of giving to others. Volunteering as a family has been a lot of fun and has brought us closer as a family.

What is one piece of advice/wisdom you would like to share about giving?

Giving is a great way for the kids to increase their self-esteem and to appreciate the many gifts we share living in a great community like Westfield.

Mark, you are making a huge difference in your family, in your community, and in generations to come. Thank you for your giving!

GIVING OPPORTUNITY: STAMP OUT HUNGER

This Saturday, May 14th, is Stamp Out Hunger, a nationwide food drive...and simple giving opportunity! You may have received this postcard in your mailbox some time during the past few weeks.

Simply fill a bag with nonperishable food items and place it near your mailbox. Your mail carrier will pick it up and the food will be distributed locally to a food bank in your community.

I spoke to our mail carrier and he said that in NYC, the mail carrier who drives the truck early in the morning, picks up the bags. So if you live in NYC, let your mail carrier know you have a bag so that he can notify the truck carrier. Then place the bag near your mailbox late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

I have no affiliation with any of the organizations connected to this campaign, but am moved by this simple opportunity!

Tonight after dinner, we went through our cabinets and gathered a pretty good selection of food. The kids were thrilled that we let them put all of the food in the bag by themselves (we just doubled a couple of paper bags that we typically use for recycling). And we held our breaths as they not-so-gently "placed" the glass jars into the bag.

IMPORTANT NOTE: After the kids filled the bag, I re-read the information and GLASS JARS ARE NOT ACCEPTED! Oops. Makes sense!

So we removed the glass jars and will replace them.

We were planning to go to the store tomorrow anyway to pick up some other items for the bag. There is a sale on pasta and such. And now, we'll just add a few more canned goods to the list to replace the glass jars!

What a sweet, simple way to give to families in your community. And you still have time! Don't forget -- it's this Saturday!

And if you can't give food this weekend, you can always share the event information on Twitter (@stampouthunger) or on Facebook (Stamp Out Hunger).

Bonus Tip: Throughout the month of May, you can also donate fresh food online and "crowd-feed" through Amp Your Good. So cool!

Happy Giving!

Trash Tuesdays -- It's a Thing -- And You Can Do It Too

Last fall, I started holding "Trash Tuesdays" with my kids.

To give you a little background -- we live in a residential neighborhood in Manhattan; an active and engaged community. While there are garbage cans on most street corners, there are not nearly enough to contain the regularly overflowing garbage. Since we live so close to the river, the added wind makes certain pockets and blocks cyclones of swirling trash. Lovely, I know. We also live near a large park that is a popular birthday party and hang out spot. The grass and flowers are often littered with food wrappers and miscellaneous trash.

For weeks, Milo and I had been chatting about picking up the garbage with a toy grabber that he had recently gotten. 

I'm fairly certain the grabber cost around $5.99. But if you don't have one, you could use gloves, put bags over your hands, or (dare I say it) just wash your hands really, REALLY well after you're finished!

I'm fairly certain the grabber cost around $5.99. But if you don't have one, you could use gloves, put bags over your hands, or (dare I say it) just wash your hands really, REALLY well after you're finished!

One beautiful Tuesday, we packed up some snacks, a few plastic grocery bags, the grabber, some cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer. And off we went on a trash collecting adventure.

We picked up lots of trash, climbed trees, threw leaves, ate snacks, played with dogs and had a blast.

Over the past few months, we have had such fun on our trash collecting adventures. The kids (and I!) still love it every time we go.

Do we go every Tuesday? No. Do we only go on Tuesdays? Certainly not. Is it always a lengthy activity? Nope.

But now when we pass garbage on the sidewalk, Luna always points to it and says, "Uh oh!" Every.single.time. Sometimes I don't catch her in time and she throws out something gross on her own. Oh well. And if we see trash without the grabber in tow, Milo almost always tells me that he wants to come back with it so we can clean it up.

So I would say this giving activity is surely worthwhile.

Tips for Trash Tuesdays (or any day!):

  • If you're doing this activity with young kids, it will likely not be hours of uninterrupted trash collecting. But it is so much fun to roll with it. Be flexible and let the activity play out however it does -- engagement on any level is giving!
  • Make sure to explain to kids why you are giving in this way. It is never to early to help them understand what an impact they can make on their community.
  • It's fun to take turns having different jobs: Trash Spotter, Trash Grabber, Trash Collector.
  • Living in NYC, we have come across garbage that is not so appropriate for little ones. So you may want to think about what you might say if your kids come across condoms, condom wrappers, or drug paraphernalia. Yes, seriously.
  • On several occasions, my kids have almost squeezed baggies of exploding dog poop that have been left on the sidewalk. Gross. If you're in an area like us where they are everywhere, stay alert or you will have a mess!

Happy Giving!