For my birthday, Lee (my lovely boss) brought me back Goodies. I frequently get a little bit of swag (who knew the UBS was big on giving out mints?), but this was especially cool.
So this is actually a good opportunity to describe a little of what NESsT does.
Lee gave me a bottle of wine, in a cool woven bag, with a cool little notebook inside. The bag and notebook were made by one of the non-profit NGOs in Budapest that NESsT is working with.
This group employs the mentally challenged, letting them be productive and creative, and bring in an income, which would otherwise be a very, very remote prospect. They weave everything by hand, themselves, on small looms--tapestries, rugs, bags, scarves. They also hand-make the paper for the covers of the little notebooks, which are sewn together. The art on the covers is theirs. It's beautiful, it's colorful, it's doing a lot of good in their community.
Now, NESsT comes in this way: NESsT does a lot of fundraising, then, rather than just dispersing funds out for one-time gifts, the money goes into infrastructure for these community groups. NESsT does what is basically business training for these groups (business professionals donate time to help in this), and gives the groups technical assistance to keep up and running, and helps them find venues for the products they're making. NESsT helps them with the marketing, and in learning how to do all those sorts of things on their own. And when it's all together, these non-profit non-government community groups have solid infrastructure and a steady source of income that they can use to employ locals and give back to their communities in whatever way their communities need. They get to be self-sufficient (NESsT stands for Non-Profit Enterprise and Self-Sustainability Team). And all that without having to compromise themselves in whatever way private corporations or donors would require before giving them any funding, and without having the unsteadiness of highly variable incomes, or anything else most small charities have to suffer through.
It is really, intensely cool. NESsT takes (in my opinion) the best stuff from the business world and the best stuff from the philanthropy world, and helps people make really wonderful things happen.
It's the panacea, for me, too. I'm not doing much that's big or grand, I'm not working full-time or doing heavy lifting and fund-raising or donating or marketing, but I help with every little thing to keep NESsT running smoothly that I can. I'm putting numbers in spreadsheets and keeping track of business cards and doing research and mailing letters and loading software, but it means that I'm helping (if in just a remote, small little way) to keep small communities in South America and Eastern Europe from starving.
Isn't that amazing?
Maybe I'm PMSing, but I'm about to cry.
I LOVE my job.
P.S. In case you were wondering: the wine is Joe Blow Red.