This post is part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who are making a difference in their communities.
Debodhonyaa (Deb) Sengupta, Attorney + Volunteer for Constellation Theatre Company, Humane Rescue Alliance, and People.Animals.Love.
What inspired you to start giving?
I’ve always wanted to give back because I believe giving back opens up new, different opportunities that I would have never come across in my daily life. I work long hours, and unless I take this time out, I will look up from my desk one day and life will have passed me by!
What does giving mean to you? Why do you give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?
As an immigrant, giving back is an opportunity for me to show my gratitude for everything that this country has given me. I give because I can see the difference, however small, that my contribution can make in my community. Giving back has also introduced me to some amazing people in D.C., and made me feel that I belong here!
What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back? Share a piece of advice will help them get started.
One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that you have to be rich to give back to the community. Yes, of course, money is good, and everyone needs it, especially non-profit organizations that rely primarily on donations. But, I like to tell people that you can give back in so many different ways. Donating your time is often as important as monetary donations. There are so many things you can do - if you love animals, you can sign up to be a foster for your local shelter or rescue organization (some costs associated with fostering are tax-deductible); if you love people, you can sign up to visit a retirement community; if you’re an introvert, a lot of organizations need help behind the scenes for special events. You can always find something that fits your schedule and your pocketbook! Giving back also brings you unexpected rewards. I started off at Constellation Theatre Company as a volunteer and spent some fun evenings putting stamps and address labels on our mailings. It gave me the opportunity to get to know the folks there, which led me to other opportunities with the organization, and eventually a leadership position on the Board of Directors.
Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
My dog, Alfred, and I are a People.Animals.Love. (PAL) therapy team, and we frequently visit the Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood Library in Washington, D.C. When we first started, there was a little girl, probably 1.5-2 years old, who would come to visit the dogs every week. Truth be told, her parents would bring her, because she wasn’t a big fan of dogs, and they wanted to get her used to being around them. She would stand behind her dad, while he would pet Alfred and try to get her to do the same. Two years later, she now comes up to pet Alfred on her own. Her progress has been wonderful to see over time! It also warms my heart to see some of the younger readers read to Alfred. They may stumble, and need some help with the bigger words, but they never hesitate to read to the dogs.