We’re completely immersed in the world of weddings right now, and with all the guest list finalizing, the “eh”-driven cake choosing and the fun weddings in Rochester and D.C., it’s been hard to think about anything other than brides and grooms. No it hasn’t. There’s an insane amount of activity going on today, both nationally, internationally, and of course, locally. I’ve had the opportunity to learn about some of the great non-profits of Rochester through a young professionals giving circle called NextGen Rochester. Last week, I got to experience the event I’d been waiting for all year, the Annual Meeting at Geva’s Nextstage. I had joined the group, hoping to learn more about small organizations dolling out a great amount of good, and the Annual Meeting brought nine great organizations to my attention, front and center.
First up was the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester, hoping to expand their after school reading program; then came Bush Mango Drum and Dance asking for help funding scholarships; followed by Cameron Community Ministries with their Math Matters program; Geva Theater’s Passport Program; Hope Hall wishing to expand their sports program; Teen Empowerment looking to hold a South West Rochester young summit; Mt. Hope Family Center hoping to provide gift packages to teen moms; Junior Achievement ‘s Developing Confidence, Competence and Character program, and finally, our neighbors, Nativity Preparatory Academy, asking for assistance in funding an art teacher position. Some of the organizations were familiar and others weren’t so much, but they all introduced me to a different very real and important new aspect of aide needed in our community. With a 46 percent graduation rate and the highest rate of childhood poverty in the nation, living in Rochester is not always a walk in the park. Here these groups were — the top 10 finalists of the more than 131 grant applications that had been submitted — pouring their hearts out. One couldn’t help but feel moved.
Everyone who stood up and made their 8-minute case was so passionate and proud, standing up there and inviting others to join their cause. I took rigorous notes and yet, I still hesitated at the thought of ranking one above the other when it came to our votes. There’s something that’s simply awe-inspiring about watching empowered individuals stand up for what they believe in, and I left that night feeling grateful, for all the good work that had already been set in motion, and I felt hopeful for what the future might hold. Regardless of where we go, or what we do, Rochester is and always will be my home. And I couldn’t be more pleased.