I have been very lucky in my life thanks my ability to connect with people. As Malcom Gladwell put it, “Connectors are social glue – they spread it.” Consider my philanthropy my way of spreading around some social glue.
Orlando is a host to many opportunities for people to be involved in the city and the community that they live in. Not to mention, to support causes that are near and dear to your heart due to personal connections or any other. Since living here, I have volunteered at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, which hosts the Special Olympics. Also, have spent a day volunteering at a convention just for fun and perks.
I have always been the kind of person that is more willing to give my time to anything of meaning over my money. Not because I have a lot of either, but because I feel like so many do not give either.
As someone who thrives off of creativity, I began being presented with opportunities to use my skills of costuming for the good of charities in the area. At first, it was a strange thought…Why would kids want to see me in costume? At the time, I strictly dressed up in “cosplay” for conventions or wore a random costume here and there for parties with friends. Never had I thought that a passion that I had developed could be used to bring happiness to someone other than myself. I was completely wrong.
In June of 2014, a friend founded the non-profit organization called the Guardians of Justice. The Guardians was meant to be an organization much like others here in Orlando, like Costumers With a Cause and Hero’s Alliance, but different. Many former members from these others groups had things that had rubbed them wrong before were essentially all brought together under the umbrella of this non-profit. I was named a council member right off the batin order to help handle technology for the group and was happy to help. However, it was a very rocky start with 7 council members, no guidelines, and many other mishaps along the way.
In March of 2015, after many shortfalls, the council of the Guardians of Justice had fallen from 7 members to our founder, my fiance’, and myself. As someone who had not been taking an active part in the group due to constantly not being heard, I knew this was my opportunity to turn things around.
April 2015 the Guardians of Justice were relaunch with three sole council members, a new logo and branding, a new website with an application process, and guidelines that all current members agreed upon. Since this re-launch and as of August 2015, we attended over 10 events and have over 8 more scheduled for the rest of “our” year. This easily makes us the busiest and most easily accessible non-profit organization of our type in Central Florida, if not Florida as a whole.
We have had the pleasure of working with many great and wonderful charities of Orlando and are forming more and more partnerships with other companies in the area that want to help support what we do. We have successfully been funded by way of crowd sourcing through GoFundMe with a $1000 goal that was met. With that raised money, we have been able to take care of all operational costs for our year. Meaning that we do not have to ask our members to pay in order to wear volunteer (“Smile Maker”) t-shirts, as well as many other things.
I am insanely proud of our organization and what we have accomplished in such a short amount of time. I hope we continue to grow and form an amazing community where people can come together and do great things.
You can find out more about the Guardians of Justice at our website www.GuardiansofJustice.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org