Thanks to Jody Morgan at Alamo Today for featuring Pledge to Humanity on their front page! We’re thankful for the opportunity to spread the Pledge to Humanity message to our community. Read the full December edition of Alamo Today here.
Pledge to Humanity demonstrates daily that every child has the innate ability to improve the life of someone less fortunate. Projects matched to their interests and skills engage Pledge to Humanity Ambassadors in hands-on experiences serving other people both locally and globally. Since Alamo resident Gaby Ghorbani founded PTH in 2009, the organization has grown exponentially as young people share with friends the delight they discover in opening their hearts to awareness of the need for their compassion and their eyes to the incredible impact of each small act of kindness they perform.
“The greatest gift we can give our children is helping them understand their power to improve the lives of others,” Ghorbani explains. “The sense of self worth they gain from helping others out of kindness rather than charity gives them an amazing feeling of empowerment and belief in their ability to make a difference in someone else’s life.”
Recipient of the 2015 Diablo Magazine Threads of Hope Award and recognized as a Hometown Hero by Contra Costa Times, Ghorbani insists Pledge to Humanity kids deserve the credit for PTH success. “The kids are making the difference,” she says. “They’ve told me time and time again that their lives will never be the same.”
Parent Advisor to San Ramon Valley High School’s 375-member PTH Club Beth McKnight concurs with Ghorbani. “Club members aren’t signing up just because they need service hours. These kids love this club. This year our club more than doubled in size, and it has mostly been because of word of mouth.”
McKnight’s favorite part of a PTH trip is the drive home. “I love hearing the stories and hearing the teens tell me how much they got out of the opportunity. They are always blown away by how grateful the people are that they serve. They are shocked that people who have so little can be so appreciative. I truly believe that these experiences change these kids from the inside out.”
SRVHS PTH Club members choose projects from a variety of options including working with Special Olympics and Challenger Baseball kids to building playhouses for Habitat for Humanity and getting new and good-as-new toys ready for White Pony Express to distribute.
They prepare food at soup kitchens and make fleece blankets for foster children. A newly instituted Student Advisory Board is focusing on identifying needs to be met in four different areas: Senior Citizens, Soup Kitchens, Community Outreach, and Food Banks.
McKnight notes, “Many of these teens have never been exposed to real poverty, addiction,people who are truly hungry, or folks with serious mental illness. PTH gives them a chance to spend time with folks that struggle with one or more of these issues. They learn that these are real people and learn to have more compassion for those who are in need. They learn to look these folks in the eye rather than looking away.”
PTH Board Member and Parent Advisor for Monte Vista High School’s PTH Ambassadors Janet Nunan reports, “In September the Ambassadors attended Glide Memorial Church and gave six hours to feeding the homeless. I think it opened all of our eyes to see firsthand how little some have – how much we have, and that we can bridge that gap by merely giving our time.” Nunan describes a moment that captures the essence of the experience. “When we were leaving our service at Glide Memorial Church, we were starving and tired from a good day’s work. Regardless of his hunger, one of the students gave his lunch to a man we passed on the sidewalk who was hungry. That made my heart swell.”
Ghorbani sold two successful business franchises to dedicate her life to passing along the insight she gained as a privileged 10 year-old living in Mexico. Riding home in her family car one day, she spotted a boy no older than herself struggling to survive by selling candy and gum on the street. Since that moment, Ghorbani has never been numb to poverty or need. By helping others in every way she could, Gaby learned the value of tackling huge issues one step at a time. “Stand up and fight for what is right, even if you have to stand up alone,” she advises. “I love to equip kids with the knowledge of what a giver can do for someone else.”
Ghorbani launched PTH with modest expectations. She spoke with students in leadership groups in local schools. One middle school student wrote, “I learned so much about how just $1.00 could help kids in Kenya, India, China, and even in the streets of San Francisco! I really like that you don’t care about the big checks of money. All that matters is taking some time to go volunteer or visit.” Soon she found other students were asking to be invited to work with PTH. Now thousands of local youngsters are involved in PTH projects annually.
Guidelines for small groups wanting to form PTH clubs include all that’s needed to succeed. The extensive list of potential projects begins with ideas as simple as collecting candy for Blue Star Moms to ship to soldiers overseas. An outline for making meetings fun emphasizes the value of being part of a team and gaining a sense of responsibility as well as belonging. Youthful participants pledge to: “Be kind to everyone even if they are not kind back; Be aware of the needs and feelings of others; Be mindful that my words and actions affect others; Be patient with others; Volunteer to serve others and be grateful for what I have; Help people in need and have fun at the same time.”
In partnership with We Charity (formerly Free the Children), PTH supports school building, clean water, sanitation, and health initiatives in Haiti, Ecuador, India, and Kenya as well as projects in Mexico.
Brianna Lane, currently preparing to graduate from the University of Southern California with a degree in Management of Non-Governmental Organizations, began working with Gaby prior to the founding of PTH. As a summer intern in 2015, she traveled with PTH to India to add space to an existing school. Brianna continues to volunteer with PTH. “Gaby wants children to have hands-on service experience. She believes your heart changes once you see the people you are serving,” Lane remarks. “For Gaby, the focus is not on fundraising or quantifying what has been accomplished. For her it is about improving the lives of others, improving the way Pledge to Humanity serves needs locally and globally, but most importantly expanding the number of children who have the opportunity to have the heart-changing experience of connecting with their ability to improve the lives of others.”
An annual Gala is the major PTH fundraiser. Gaby draws no salary and all participants in PTH travel (Gaby included) pay their own expenses. The 2017 trip to Kenya is already full. Once a trip schedule has been planned, Gaby sends out the call for those on the email list to come to an orientation meeting. Sign-ups quickly exceed available space. A middle school student on the 2016 Ecuador trip asked to speak at this year’s September Gala.
“Though it was not the most comfortable trip, it was arguably one of the best trips I’ve taken,” he proclaimed. “It was eye opening, fulfilling, educational, filled with camaraderie and fun, in addition to an opportunity to help others and achieve accomplishment.”
Want to learn more? Interested in starting a Pledge to Humanity Ambassadors group or donating time, talent, or treasure? Visit www.pledgetohumanity.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.