A Conversation With Micah Raskin About Philanthropic Motivation
According to a report by the National Center for Educational Statistics, one in every five children in the United States have experienced bullying. With increased access to social networks and third-party communication platforms, today’s youth are now subject to cyberbullying and online harassment.
With a deeply empathetic and compassionate heart, Micah Raskin has become increasingly worried about the impact that cyberbullying will have on youth development. As a result, he is on a mission to raise awareness for this cause, in addition to addressing food scarcity and homelessness in Long Island.
Micah Raskin is a philanthropist who is dedicated to strengthening local communities through his work. Inspired by his father, who grew up in an orphanage, Micah Raskin was taught to give back whenever possible. Whether it was monetary or through volunteering, Micah has always found fulfillment in giving back to society’s most vulnerable. As part of his charity work, Micah has demonstrated a dedication to managing, establishing, and evaluating performance standards, maintenance controls, and work procedures, as well as ensuring compliance with policies and procedures.
What inspired you to begin your philanthropic efforts?
My father, who passed away in 2019, inspired me to get involved with philanthropy-he was my best friend and partner in business. My father was raised in an orphanage until he was eighteen years old, and given his upbringing, he always wanted to have a family. My father was married to my mother for sixty years and together, they had three sons. Throughout my childhood, my father instilled in me the idea of tithing and giving a percentage of what you made back into society. Growing up around my dad, I got to see how he lived out those values. He was someone that always gave to others-he would give the shirt off his back without thinking twice! I remember specific instances of him helping out a neighbor who could not pay their rent, even before he paid his rent.
Another lesson he taught me was that giving does not need to be monetary to be meaningful. It may be a strong arm for someone walking across the street, holding a door open for someone, or even saying please or thank you. If everybody in this world could do one nice deed or gesture every single day, I believe we could change the world. My father taught me that.
I have always been interested in causes that help children and promote education. In the past six years, I began addressing the homelessness and hunger problems that we have in Nassau County and Queens County in New York, the neighborhoods where I grew up.
How do you inspire others?
I inspire others by reminding them that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. If you believe that buying a house, running a successful business, or achieving anything worth having in life is unattainable, you are probably right. Visualization is a highly powerful technique that has helped me in my journey, and it can help you in yours too!
To be successful, you have to visualize being successful. Whether success to you means winning a game, landing your dream job, having a good day at work, or meeting a soul mate, you have to visualize it in your mind first. Every achievement that I have made, I have been able to visualize ahead of time. I try to instill in others with the notion that if you can imagine what you want to achieve, you are already fifty percent there.
Once you visualize your end goals, then it is up to you to find the motivation to achieve them. I strongly believe that helping others along the way will always help stack the odds in your favor.
What aspects of philanthropy do you find most rewarding?
In the past five years I have been helping those experiencing homelessness and addressing food scarcity and hunger Long Island. I have donated money and built campaigns for organizations to build their donor base and increase the charitable gifts that they receive, but I have also volunteered my personal time at the soup kitchen-which may be the most rewarding aspect.
I do not go there with a suit and tie, as I do normally do when I am working, but instead wear blue jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers. I volunteer my time and I cook food. I was a waiter in college, so I jumped over the counter after I cooked the food, and then I served our guests-we always refer to them as guests. I always do my best to serve them with love, kindness, and respect. I like to help people feel comfortable so that they feel they can confide in me and give me the opportunity to help.
We also have a boutique available to provide for specific clothing needs. It is very rewarding to me to be able to personally greet people and serve them. To write a check is one thing, but to volunteer in person is more rewarding than almost anything else.
What philanthropic projects are you currently working on?
I continue to work on my initiatives to reduce homelessness and hunger here in Long Island. In addition to feeding those experiencing homelessness in our soup kitchen, we have showers and private rooms available for them to rest in. We also offer them assistance services to aid with anything that they happen to need. We are also lucky to have a center next door where counselors can help individuals to get a driver’s license or identification-this is extremely valuable in trying to help give people their independence back.
We also provide access to computers, where we help individuals set up an email address and show them how to log on and check it. We educate them on the programs and paperwork that can provide them with government assistance for food and low-income housing. We do our best to train individuals to get into the workforce. Our ultimate goal is to get them to be self-sufficient and self-supportive.
I am also currently working on anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying campaigns. Whenever I read a story of a teenager who has been humiliated, body shamed, or embarrassed on social media-so much so that they would consider suicide, I knew I had to do something. Youth mental health is at an all-time low, and cyberbullying is a contributor.
What causes are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about raising awareness around cyberbullying as well as taking care of those experiencing homelessness and hunger in Long Island. I am also highly motivated in helping children with
special needs and those on the spectrum.
What are some ways our readers can become more involved with their community?
I would encourage anyone that wants to get involved with their community to help their most vulnerable. Whether it is a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, these communities have the greatest need right now, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. I would also suggest, if it is within your means, to make a donation directly to the organization; this ensures that one hundred percent of that money will be going towards helping people, whether it is through programs, services, or shelter. Of course, while money is always needed, I personally believe that volunteering can be even more valuable than monetary donations.
Too often, people feel disconnected from the communities or organizations that they donate to, and I would highly suggest connecting with them on an ongoing basis. Being able to look people in the eye and connect with them on a human level is extremely powerful.
What person has had the greatest influence on you and why?
I have always been inspired by past presidents, like George Bush, Sr. and Barack Obama, who have called on all American’s to serve their country. Both of these presidents have said in speeches that in order to be a great American you must live in service to others-whatever that means for you individually. Service can be military service, volunteering at your local soup kitchen, writing a check to a local charity, looking after an elderly person, donating your time to a local church, temple, synagogue, or mosque. Those are all types of service that we can do to be great Americans.
What motivates you to give your time and resources to so many pressing issues?
I am motivated by my father’s influence, but also the simple fact that I have agency and a platform to create meaningful change-not everyone has that privilege. This empowers me to want to help people that are less fortunate than I am. It is my own success and the blessings in my own life that empower me to want to help others.