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Your 7 Favorite Charities: A Good Idea

Weeks ago, we asked you to nominate your favorite local charities. Check out the seven you chose as your favorite in the city here, who will each be receiving a $700 gift from us.  We've also been profiling each of these on our website. Vote for your favorite to be featured as a "Charity You Love" in our February issue!

Nearly three years ago Jared Paul had a transformation, or as he calls it “a one-third life crisis."  But whereas most life crises just lead to break-ups, meditation or quitting a corporate job – all of which he also did – Jared’s inspired him to found a nonprofit called A Good Idea.  A Good Idea creates positive social change by connecting people who want to help with people in need specifically the homeless population. We asked Jared what’s happening at A Good Idea and if buying a sports car ever crossed his mind.
How did homelessness become the focus of A Good Idea?
Mostly by default.  Originally we started out doing Intentional Acts of Kindness giving out hugs, fruit, chocolate and other treats to the people of San Francisco in hopes of improving peoples’ days and inspiring kindness in others.  Homelessness was just so in your face everyday and it stemmed from there.

What makes A Good Idea different from other groups?  
We are about ease of giving and mobilizing people no matter their commitment level.  Many nonprofits require greater protocol like background checks, a set schedule, etc.  We want people to be able to act on their desire to help without barriers.

We also emphasize helping people in their environment we try to avoid asking the homeless to come to say, a soup kitchen.  We wouldn’t want there to be anything dividing us, and those in need.  Our goal is to create spaces where people can meet and connect with one another.

How can people get involved?
By going to our website and joining our mailing list or following us on Facebook.  Our community connection or Call To Arms events are a good way to check us out no commitment necessary.  We have a great community of volunteers and we keep things very social so they can be a lot of fun.

What’s a recent A Good Idea?
We wanted to do something besides just providing basic human needs to the homeless, so last year we started holding “A Good Day” events which we plan on having next year as well.  We work closely with case managers at homeless shelters who help us invite people who have been working hard to improve their lives or who could benefit from some general kindness. 

At the first event we threw a pampering party where our guests were giving manicures, pedicures, gourmet meals and massages.  It’s a different approach to inspiring members of the homeless community, by showing them that life doesn’t always have to be tough.  We want inspire them to not just survive, but to live. 

What’s in store for 2011?
We are developing a new idea called “The Friends Program.”  We’ll match volunteers’ strengths with those in need.  Thanks to Facebook we’ve been able to really get to know our volunteers’ strengths and talents.  We started thinking we could be better utilizing our volunteers’ expertise and allowing them to share their passions with those who could really benefit from it. 

Ever had any bad ideas at A Good Idea?
There are no bad ideas when you’re trying to help people, just unrealistic ones.  We always want to do more and we will continue to try.

To vote for A Good Idea as one of your seven favorite charities, click here.