In our present crisis, we have come to realize the importance of a strong sense of community. We rely on each other for our necessities as well as for emotional support. This benevolence helped us in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
Several famous people showed their support for medical personnel. Members of the royal families switched their tiaras to amplify their charitable works. We witnessed celebrities reach out to their fans on social media to encourage them during the lockdowns.
We may already see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we still have a long way to go. We can find consolation and strength to continue by learning more about the numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The Legal Aid Society
A lot of people have a negative connotation of legal practice. But do not allow our biases to color everyone in the law profession. The Legal Aid Society has been helping people with their legal concerns since the late 1800s. If you do not have the means, you may come for them for a class action lawsuit. You can even reach out to them if you need a car accident attorney.
Initially, the society only defended German immigrants. In 1890, the Rockefeller family donated a substantial amount that allowed the organization to help other individuals. Later that year, they renamed themselves to the New York Legal Aid Society.
The Legal Aid Society now provides legal services to impoverished New Yorkers. Their goal is to give hope to those who feel abandoned – wherever they came from or whoever they are. Here are their areas of expertise:
- Children’s Rights – They pursue legal matters on behalf of children. They focus on child welfare, parental rights, and juvenile delinquents.
- Civil – The Legal Aid Society established branches that give complete legal aid to clients. They intervene in foreclosure prevention, domestic violence, employment law, consumer law, etc.
- Criminal Defense – They believe that the real battle is outside of the courtroom. They created units that focus on appeals, parole, prisoners’ rights, community justice, and unique litigation matters.
- Pro Bono – The Legal Aid Society also works with several organizations and law students in providing legal assistance to New Yorkers who do not have the financial means.
The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
This organization is relatively new. In 1982, at the height of the United Nation’s International Decade for Women, several women converged in Wisconsin. This conference led to the creation of AWID. Empowered by the Percy Amendment, women across the country took matters into their hands to fight for women’s rights.
In the mid-1980, the organization grew. The US government, as well as the Canadian and European ministers, acknowledged its importance. During the 2nd United Nations Conference on Women, more women pushed for more awareness of their plight. They pointed out the improvement in women’s education and participation in the labor force. The radical faction of the organization showed proof that discrimination worsened.
At the beginning of the 1990s, when there were changes worldwide, women recognized the importance of addressing gender equality. It compelled AWID to host a forum in 1991. In 1993, they organized another conference. The organization’s leaders noticed that the group diversified. It led them to create more inclusive policies.
Currently, AWID collaborates with the UN and other international organizations when it comes to women’s rights. They focus on women’s economic empowerment and health and reproductive rights. They eventually earned a UN ECOSOC observer status.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
The philanthropic bug did not stop with the Rockefellers and the Carnegies in the early 20th century. The spirit of benevolence continues with the Gates. In 1994, he gave a portion of his wealth to create the William H. Gates Foundation. A few years later, he and his wife donated stocks worth $5B to fund the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In 2006, Bill Gates announced his intention to relinquish his work in Microsoft and focus on this charity. Both Bill and Melinda pushed for many reforms – from eradicating preventable childhood death and increasing well-trained doctors in Africa. They are also working on environmental reforms.
Their charitable arm extended to fighting sex trafficking by donating $5m to International Justice Mission. Around that same time, Warren Buffet promised to give stocks. They continue to fight global problems such as poverty and hunger. Unlike other foundations, it has a limited lifespan.
Late last year, the Guardian published an article about Americans being hungry. The same piece mentioned different organizations that helped people during this crisis. Many are still struggling to keep their lives afloat.
We do not need to volunteer in a soup kitchen. But we must take the initiative to help others. It is only through this that we will survive this crisis.