UncommonGoods team members are passionate about their work. As partners, parents, sons, and daughters, we’re also committed to family. All workers should be able to balance the two, but most Americans can’t afford to take time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program, and only 14 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employer. Thanks to a lot of active voices (including ours) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the strongest paid leave policy in the United States last year. However, there is still more work to do.
At UncommonGoods we strive to use our business as a force for good. One of the ways we do so is by giving to non-profit organizations that we care about through our Better to Give Program–which lets you chose a non-profit partner to receive a $1 donation (at no cost to you) each time you shop.
As the leader of our Sustainability Steering Committee, I am proud that our relationships with our Better to Give partners go beyond the monetary donations we make, by having elements that include volunteer outings, speaker sessions, and attending off-site special events hosted by our selected non-profits. While all of these areas are partially what makes it an absolute blast to work for UncommonGoods, what is most inspiring is hearing about when our team members take it upon themselves to support our Better to Give partners outside of our organization.
Since October, our Merchant Assistant, Tanya Castin, has been devoting her nights and weekends to becoming a volunteer working with one of our Better to Give partners, RAINN. Last month, Tanya completed her training and is officially an online hotline staffer for RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline.
A speaker session with RAINN’s Development Director Chelsea Bowers that we hosted back in August prompted Tanya to get involved. “Just hearing stories about our team members’ experiences with sexual assault and being aware of the statistics [related to sexual abuse] pushed me into taking action,” she explained. “Being an online hotline staffer was something that I didn’t know was an option, but when I found out about it through our guest speaker, I looked it up online and found that they had one slot open in a New York City-based training over a weekend, so I signed up.” Signing up was the first step toward a large undertaking. To be a hotline staff, RAINN’s requirements included an in person weekend training session (16 hours split between a Saturday and Sunday), followed by a robust online training program.
As an independently owned business, we have the ability to support causes we believe in and to impact the world in a positive way–so each time you shop at UncommonGoods, we donate $1 to a non-profit partner of your choice through our Better to Give program. Although the donations are at no cost to you, your purchases have allowed us to donate more than $1 million to our partners since 2001.
Last summer, we were proud and honored to welcome the International Rescue Committee to the Better to Give program. Since June 2016, we’ve raised $57,000 (and counting!) for their mission to aid refugees and families afflicted by conflict around the globe. But there’s still work to do.
As a business that specializes in one-of-a-kind, handmade merchandise, we don’t typically offer site-wide promotions. Shop ’til you drop deals, such as those advertised on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are not part of our DNA. (Though that doesn’t mean we don’t offer goods on sale!)
But what is stored within our DNA is a commitment to giving back, an instinct to use business as a force for good.
As an independently owned business, we have the freedom to support causes we believe in and to impact the world in a positive way. With every purchase you make, we donate $1 to one of our nonprofit partners of your choice through our Better to Give program (at no cost to you).
While we’re grateful to have the freedom to support four nonprofit organizations that are doing such important work, we know that the key to truly making a difference through our Better to Give program is up to our customers.
Thanksgiving Day is less than one month away, which means that we are officially entering the eye of the holiday season! (Cue “Eye of the Tiger.”)
Between between hours of travel, days of holiday dinner prep, and months of coordinating reunions with loved ones, it can be hard to take the time to plan anything that doesn’t revolve around your own seasonal traditions.
But there’s no denying that taking the time to give back is invaluable. All year long, we offer our customers the chance to give back through our Better to Give program. With every purchase you make, we’re proud to donate $1 to a Better to Give partner of your choice (at no cost to you). This year, we want to make sure that giving back is part of your holiday planning. So, we turned to our community to spread the word about our Better to Give program.
Here at UncommonGoods, it’s our policy to use business as a force for good. Through our Better to Give program, it’s important to us that we connect our customers with organizations that impact the world in a positive way. In the wake of the historic floods that have devastated southeast Louisiana, we have partnered with the Greater New Orleans Foundation to help raise donations for its NOLA Pay It Forward Fund: Helping Families in Neighboring Parishes. The Fund will provide resources for the early relief and rebuilding efforts of those communities impacted by the recent floods.
After recently partnering with a new Better to Give partner – The International Rescue Committee (IRC) – UncommonGoods was lucky enough to have an audience with Omar Almashhadani, a refugee client of the IRC. Omar describes himself as being a refugee twice in his life. In 2006, Omar was living in his native Iraq, studying prosthetic dentistry, and was hoping to continue his studies and move into practicing – but his life was in danger. The security situation in Iraq had collapsed, and his family fled the country to what they thought at the time might be a beacon of safety—Syria. They lived in a refugee camp, and Omar and his brother couldn’t go to college or work because of restrictions on refugees. Given the bleak outlook for their futures in a refugee camp, Omar and his family decided to apply for refugee resettlement in the United States, and in April 2008, were granted resettlement in the U.S. With help from the IRC, Omar became a U.S. citizen and has been going to school and working in New York City ever since. Here’s a look at our conversation with Omar.
What was your life in Iraq like before the war?
It was peaceful, quiet, and I could go outside to hang out with my friends and family. We had many different communities and different religions, but we were all very happy and peaceful.
How did your family decide it was time to leave Iraq?
In 2003, the war drove me and my family out of my hometown and into the center of Baghdad where we stayed with my uncle. Unfortunately the conflict continued to escalate with suicide bombings and rumors of people being kidnapped. Then in 2005 my brother was shot in the leg, and we realized it was too dangerous to stay any longer. We knew we had to leave as soon as possible, so we applied for an Iraqi passport – which can take a year to be approved. Finally we fled to Syria in 2006. At that time, Syria was considered safer than Iraq.