This week’s Latina Spotlight is on writer, entrepreneur, non-profit founder, Marjoriet Matute. A cancer survivor, Marjoriet was moved to give back to the organizations that helped her during her battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, soon after her sons were born. In 2012, she and her close family and friends launched Devin & Tristan Give Back, named for each of her two sons, with the expressed intention of teaching her boys what it means to give back and do good for others.
As Marjoriet and her “Give Back crew” prepare to bring in a new year, she implores that everyone give back to their community year-round, not just during the holidays. Find out what exciting events, milestones and news the DTGB team have in store for the New Year, and how you can start giving back today!
When did you start Devin & Tristan Give Back?
September 2012 was the official launch of DTGB, but we already had the initiative in place. Once we discovered we were expecting Devin we decided to host our first toy drive in lieu of a wishing well at our baby shower. Our very large latino family showed tremendous support and raised well over 100 toys for the Tomorrow’s Children’s Foundation in 2009.
What inspired you to organize Devin & Tristan Give Back?
We discussed raising our sons knowledgeable of my battle with cancer. Issuing a charity organization to each son was our initial thought and donated to TCF & the Make-a-Wish foundation on behalf of each boy. But then, as with all lingering minds, I thought of possibly expanding the concept and incorporating our whole community. So now, not only do we pay it forward to the organizations that helped me during my illness, but now we help people in our community give back to causes close to their hearts too.
In what ways has your organization give back?
Wow, this is a loaded question. Since 2012, DTGB has:
- Hosted toy drives benefiting pediatric cancer patients, Hurricane Sandy victims & local families in need
- Collected food and served the homeless
- Spotlighted causes and raised awareness on issues such as lupus, autism, childhood obesity, & cancer.
- Collected school supplies for underprivileged kids & partnered up with celebrity dentist who offered free dental screenings to Brooklyn students
- Helped raise funds used to pay medical expenses for a pediatric cancer patient undergoing a bone marrow transplant
- Create social media buzz educating our followers on pressing issues and asking for participation to help spread awareness. Examples: Domestic abuse “1 in 4” campaign & Lupus “L” for Lupus hand sign
- Partnered up with organizations and businesses to offer our followers free events. Examples: Childhood obesity family fun night, Story time at the library, Mom’s night out & crayola day at the children’s hospital
How has DTGB impacted others/ your community?
Other than the events, donations and participation we also are inspired by others. We spotlight “Inspiring People” who have a story to tell unrelated to our mission. We ask our community to get involved and when they join our network, they start viewing our mission as a part of their regular lives. Rather than an act of kindness every once in a while or solely during the holidays, they start to realize how in the smallest way on a random Tuesday there is a way to Give Back. Our followers now tag us on their acts and look for us for guidance. We are now associated as the Give Back crew who people are excited to share their stories with. We started a movement that has impacted not only our immediate followers but those they come into contact with. We have corporate offices now following us, fraternities and sororities, teachers, families and friends of friends.
How has DTGB impacted your outlook on the world and on life?
DTGB is a personal mission that I set out to teach my sons the value of life and to appreciate what they have. Surprisingly enough, it has made a huge impression on those closest to me. The world is hungry for opportunities to give back. Our most common feedback once someone discovers us is “I always want to get involved but don’t know how.” My small vision of donating a few dollars a year has evolved to helping inspire others monthly. Now with five girls on the DTGB roster we examine new issues, how we can popularize it, get people interested and make it family friendly. We don’t necessarily have a tie to a topic and have to educate ourselves first. We learn together and with fresh eyes realize how valuable our lives are. Its incredible how united we are by the end of the month.
How can others join DTGB in their mission?
Simply by following us. The success of DTGB’s mission is by spreading our monthly spotlights. We ask our followers to participate and keep the momentum going. Giving back is not always denominal sometimes it’s by observing and lending a hand. We have met amazing people by stopping and talking and sometimes that’s all you need to do to brighten someone’s day.
What’s next for DTGB? What events are you hosting? What causes are you supporting?
DTGB is revamping our approach to Giving Back for the 2014 year. We are launching programs for communities to express creatively, hosting events so families could unite and concentrate on interacting. We want to meet our followers and get out to areas we haven’t worked with yet. Also 2014 brings the DTGB children’s book series–woo hoo! The first book is scheduled to publish in the top of the year. The books are range from sharing the “Give Back” mission to pediatric medical conditions. We specifically targeted medical conditions children deal with and have questions about. I wanted to create stress free conversations between families and help ease the Q &A discussions that tend to happen between kids and their parents.
What is your advice to people who want to give back to their community or start a non-profit organization?
Start small with something that you are passionate about. If you have a soft spot for animals, get involved in your local shelter. See what the demand is and create opportunities for people to help. Post flyers on local businesses and ask for small donations. People want to help! Also, volunteer with larger organizations to learn more about the topic. See how they are helping and how you can personally contribute. Most importantly, tell people what your goal is. I cannot stress how many people are willing to help you achieve your goal. Giving back is an act of kindness that is a part of our society, once you take the lead they will follow.