In August, nine high school teenagers sat at my kitchen counter, decorating beautiful cakes that looked as if they had come from a bakery. It was hard to imagine that just a month before, some of them had never decorated a cake.
My friends and I ran a cake decorating summer program for high school students. The program lasted five weeks; nine high-schoolers came and decorated cakes three mornings a week.
The cakes that they decorated were distributed to local food pantries with whom we are partnered. During the course of the summer, over forty-five cakes for special occasions were donated to those in need.
I founded Cakes for a Cause, NFP because I wanted to decorate cakes and donate them to food pantries. As a result, I created the first organization that donated cakes. I didn’t know anything about starting a not-for-profit, but I took a chance.
Everything I learned was through Google and calling different departmental agencies. Slowly I accumulated an understanding of the different laws and requirements. Like most difficult yet worthwhile tasks, it took and continues to take a lot of time and effort. Still, it is gratifying to see the effects we make on others’ lives.
One day, two Northwestern University film students interviewed the participants for a community news program. The participants smiled as they shared their stories, ranging from the first cake they decorated on their own, to mastering a complicated decorating technique. They were proud of what they had accomplished, but they were even more proud of the difference they were making in the community.
It is easy to become trapped in the “Deerfield Bubble” and lose sight of the struggles facing many citizens in the country. Still, you can read the news on your computer or download a news app on your iPhone. Awareness about issues is important, but what is even more important, is making a difference.
You don’t have to travel far to make a difference. You can make a difference here at Deerfield, and in the Franklin County. Volunteer at Second Helpings on Monday nights. Sign up for a Weekend Project; Special Olympics meets on Sunday mornings.
Try something new this term, because you may discover something you truly enjoy. It is one thing to make a difference in your own life; it is another to be able to make a difference in others’ lives.