This post is part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who are making a difference in their communities.
Dr. Monique Y. Wells, Founder and CEO of the Wells International Foundation
What inspired you to start giving?
Giving is a “best practice” that I grew up with, beginning with contributing money to the collection plate at church! I was taught that no matter how little you have, you can always give something to someone less able than you.
What does giving mean to you? Why do you give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?
I give because I have received, and I know the value of receiving. I cannot count the number of ways I have benefited because someone decided to give me some of their precious time and/or money. I want to pay this forward and help others in a comparable way.
I feel privileged whenever I can make even one person’s life a little better because of my gift of time (volunteering, mentoring, training) or money.
As Denzel Washington so eloquently stated, “Giving is the most selfish thing you can do because it feels so good!”
What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back? Share a piece of advice will help them get started.
My advice is to discard any previously conceived notions about what giving should look like. It can be anything from volunteering to read at Story Time at your neighborhood library to making an endowment gift to your favorite non-profit organization. The most important thing is to do something with or give to a cause you’re passionate about – this will generate the greatest amount of positive energy and inspire others to do the same.
One of the ways that I give is by helping others understand how they can give! A few years ago, I was greatly inspired by Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive. In it, Arianna presented giving as the fourth pillar of her “Third Metric” to redefining success and creating a happier life. This led me to write an article series for the Huffington Post called “Successful Women Entrepreneurs Give Back.” I also invited women who were featured on my Ultra You podcast for successful women to talk about the ways in which they give back to their communities. I believe there is no stronger way to inspire and encourage others than leading by example.
My personal example is the work that I do through my non-profit organization, the Wells International Foundation (WIF). Our mission is to empower women and persons of African descent to realize their highest potential through arts, literacy, study abroad, and other educational and cultural programs. We are creating a network of global citizens who embrace inclusiveness and foster a spirit of cooperation throughout the world. Our organization is just over two years old and we’ve already established successful programs that impact lives across the U.S. and in France.
Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
I am mentoring a young woman who recently graduated from the University of Arizona and is applying to nursing school. I met her when she traveled abroad for the first time in 2016 to participate in WIF’s inaugural event, a project that (among other things) combined art and technology in Paris, France. She has traveled to Europe three times since then! I am mentoring her because she is pursuing life science as a career and because she believes travel is important to helping her become the best health professional she can be.