Making Milestones Matter with Dignity Grows
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Making milestones matter
Bonnie Davis believes in making milestone birthdays matter.
In the year after she turned 40, she ran “40 for 40.” Yes, in one year, she ran 40 organized races, including one that included four generations of her family.
As her 50th birthday loomed on the horizon, she had a new idea for a meaningful “50 for 50.” Starting on her 49th birthday in June, she began doing 50 acts of volunteerism, beginning by hosting a Dignity Grows™ packing party in her backyard. The next morning, she delivered 100 Dignity Grows™ totes to Dress for Success.
“I hope to make meaningful connections with people, and I hope to inspire people,” she says. “If other people now go out and do volunteer work because they hear about this, that sounds great to me.”
“40 for 40”
When Davis moved to Denver from New York in 2000, she was looking for ways to create true friendships with people, connections that went beyond superficial encounters. She found those friendships through running. “As you run, you have nothing to do but talk on a deeper level,” she says. “You realize how meaningful it is to get closer to people.”
To her, “40 for 40” was a logical extension of her commitment to run.
“When I was walking and running with the people in my life for this milestone birthday, it didn’t matter what the race was,” she says. “What mattered was the time we had together.”
Still, stop and think about it—40 races in 52 weeks!
“There were times that I said, ‘Why did I sign up for this?’” Davis laughs.
She ran her first race on her 40th birthday and her last one on her 41st birthday. But as she turned 50, she faced the challenge of finding a new way to mark this milestone.
“50 for 50” begins with Dignity Grows™
Davis has two spreadsheets to track her “50 for 50” campaign, one to keep an eye on her own volunteer goals and one for friends and family to sign up to accompany her.
“I’m hoping to volunteer with many other people,” she says. As an added bonus, she says that she is “learning about some fascinating nonprofits and that the great work that is being done by so many people.”
Bonnie’s friend Jill Katchen, Director of Donor Engagement at JEWISHcolorado, suggested that she launch “50 for 50” with the packing party for Dignity Grows™, a program which JEWISHcolorado supports by organizing parties, assembling totes, and mobilizing volunteers to raise funds. Volunteers fill totes with a month’s supply of soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, and menstrual products to distribute through local community partners.
Dignity Grows™ was started in 2019 by the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford in Hartford, Conn. JEWISHcolorado is one of 40 chapters and five affiliates nationally.
“I’m really interested in the underlying reasons that cause people to struggle to get out of poverty,” Davis says. “If you can’t go to work or school because you don’t have menstrual products, that gets in the way of being successful. Doing this, we brought dignity to a sensitive subject. And it was important to me that this was part of JEWISHcolorado.”
Davis has completed seven volunteer acts toward her goal of 50. On her list of organizations is Meals on Wheels, Dress for Success, A Little Help, Cherry Creek Middle school (where she works in the store), and Cherry Creek High School (where she works in the library). Recently, she and a friend and their teenage sons delivered 50 burrito dinners to a tent community sponsored by Safe Outdoor Space.
“Sometimes you can feel helpless in the world,” she says. “Giving back helps me feel grateful for my life.”
For the next year (or more), Davis will work toward her goal of 50 acts of volunteerism, a fulfillment of her Jewish commitment to making the world a better place.
“Tzedakah is important to my husband and me,” she says. “We are raising our children with that core value. It feels good to give back when people are going through hard times.”