Friday, August 8, 2008

Philanthropy & Colin Asuncion Art 2008

Pardon me for sounding like the worst person ever, but - did you also suffer from charity overload when you were in school? You know, where there are a million different groups out there trying to raise money, crashing your classes and stopping you on campus day in and day out to bug you for cash and inundating your life with ads?

For me, it began in high school. But at least people were earnestly raising money for the sake of their causes and doing charity work really for the charity (except those two or three jerks who were only actually just trying to pad their résumés - but they were never the ones to work hardest, anyway).

In university, I got pretty disillusioned about philanthropy because I felt that people were always using charity as an excuse to do stupid things and/or to make a fool of other people. But maybe that was just unique to my circles. For example, the organization I was in held a frat boy beauty pageant every year. It might sound like fun, but really, we were essentially humiliating people in the name of charity. Some guys liked the attention, sure, but most were forced to participate by their fraternities to make a showing, because they were "pledge bitches." The mentality was, if you have a philanthropy quota to fill every year, might as well make it fun, right? Raising lots of money for charity also gives an organization bragging rights.

I won't even begin to tell you what the fraternities did "in the name of charity." Their events weren't ALWAYS negative or demeaning to women or humiliating or completely assinine, but the vast majority that took place when I was at school were. My point is that a lot of the time, students lose sight of why they are doing charity work and instead use philanthropy as an excuse to do stupid things/have fun at the expense of others, or to party, or to beef up their résumés, or to somehow benefit themselves. And that just crushes the spirit of doing charity work for the benefit of other people out of the goodness of your own heart.

And then there are people like my friend Colin. He holds an art show every year to sell his paintings and display his other artistic work, and he donates the money to a different cause every year. This year the proceeds from admissions will go to the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, which provides care and helps the 1 in 4 affected Canadians. Sure, Colin enjoys painting and creating, but he donates his time, energy and his work for causes he believes in because he wants to make a difference, and I really admire that. I also love to see how he develops as an artist.

He held a joint show earlier this summer, which was fantastic, and his solo show is taking place tomorrow! If you will be around downtown Toronto tomorrow and have some free time between 3:00-6:00pm, go check out his show, located in St. Michael's Choir School auditorium at 66 Bond St. Enjoy the art, the fantastic food and most of all, help make a difference.

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