In This Issue:
’Tis the season of giving…and we’re not just talking a new pair of Uggs or an iPad. NJ Next Stop is a believer—in the power of positive change. This holiday season, one of the best ways to make a social impact is, yes, to help your community, but also to help people who might be struggling to become more self-sufficient through training and employment opportunities. What better way to do this than with cupcakes?
Zoe’s Cupcake Café in Teaneck sells cupcakes, pastries and other sweet treats with one goal in mind: to make money to fund Zoe’s Place, a nonprofit organization that helps Bergen County pregnant teens, teen moms and their babies—100% of the café’s net proceeds go to Zoe’s Place. Clients of Zoe’s Place also work at the café, operating the cash registers, bookkeeping and helping a professional pastry chef with the baking. As café supporter Jane Fiedler told New Jersey Monthly magazine when it launched in 2009: “These girls have dreams and hopes like everybody else. What they don’t have is the belief that they can realize them.”
It’s a great example of combining community care with on-the-job training and skill development. Oh, and the cupcakes are reportedly really yummy. Here’s what one patron posted on Foursquare, a cell phone application that allows users to virtually “check in” at different locations, thus notifying friends where they are and granting them points for their number of visits: “Red velvet is a [sic] soo good here. Cupcakes for a cause!”
“I think the colors are what attract everybody—all the different frosting colors and sprinkles and decorations,” said Zoe employee Christian Mims, 17, to Knowledge@Wharton High School, an online business journal for teens. “Then you taste one and you want to keep going back.”
Social impact is the effect your actions have on the community. You can start to influence the world around you by:
Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org , clicking on the Advice 101 column’s “View All” feature and selecting “Your Social Impact.”
Jordan Coleman, a junior at Hackensack High School, is using movies to make a difference. In September 2011, Jordan won first prize at the 2011 Run & Shoot Filmworks’ Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival for his film “Payin’ the Price,” a cautionary tale about teen dating violence. His honors included an HBO Best Feature Film crystal statue and $500.
Coleman, who turned 16 this summer, directed and produced, “Say It Loud!” a documentary about how education helped the world’s biggest sports and music stars achieve their dreams. Coleman interviewed Kobe Bryant, Ludacris and the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others, for his project. Although he doesn’t yet have his driver’s license, Coleman already knows his future lies in this type of film project. “I want to continue to make films to educate and entertain,” he has said. “I feel like there’s nothing out there to solve teen issues, and my films can help do that.”
Coleman is involved in Do Something, a New York City business that helps teens and young adults organize and carry out volunteer projects in their hometowns. It offers grants and advice for teens who are trying to make a difference, and it sends text message blasts out at least once a week to give teens volunteer ideas. Do Something helped 1.2 million teens organize community service projects in 2010, and is on track to work with two million teens this year.
With so many young people finding ways to help the world, you no doubt want to become part of this growing inspiration nation. Take some time to develop your ideas into real organizations that make a successful social impact. Can’t wait? There are a lot of ways you can start helping your community today. For example, the demand for food at shelters is great in these tough economic times. Hunger affects 49 million Americans each year, 16 million of whom are children. Why not hold a food drive to collect much-needed cans and boxes of food? Do Something.org suggests these food drive tips:
Register your food drive and its results at dosomething.org (http://www.dosomething.org/tackle-hunger ) by December 25, 2011 and your team might win a scholarship.
Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org , clicking on the Advice 101 column’s “View All” feature and selecting “Act Now!”