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We need us

Jen McKillips Dec 14th, 2017

Jen Mckillips, Executive Director of Project Peace, explores the importance of non-profits in communities around the world and how Village Invest is helping her to make a difference on the issues she cares about. 

At home in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, work, and raise a family, the world sometimes looks bleak. I realize that doesn’t fit with most impressions of life here. It’s fair to say that living here can be charming. We have great food locally, amazing places to visit on our doorstep, good weather, accessible culture, kind people, plenty of diversity; it all seems ideal. But pull back the façade and we encounter the stark reality of disconnection to those in need around us.

Village Invest gives me a platform to work for the common good

In the Bay area the wealth disparity is staggering, housing is scarce, poverty is on the rise, and there are hundreds of non-profits working to combat the consequences. 

Being part of the solution

As the Executive Director of a non-profit I have the pleasure of getting to know other non-profit leaders who are changing our community and individual’s lives for the better. It’s hard, long, thankless, work that will never be finished.

One of my closest colleagues, Reverend Sandhya Jha, runs the Oakland Peace Center, which houses a number of non–profits. Reverend Jha is an anti-racism trainer, pastor, speaker, affordable housing expert, and all around hero of mine.  Her new slogan for the Oakland Peace Center is “We Need Us.” It sums up perfectly how I feel about my community and the world in the midst of a lot of hopelessness. We do in fact need us. It is a slogan that gives me hope that we can actually make an impact at home and globally.

We need us does not allow us to get off the hook in terms of our responsibilities to the global community. Sure, I should and do care deeply about my home, but that does not excuse me from looking away from the problems plaguing the rest of the world. Yes, I see poverty in Oakland, encampments of homeless men, women, and children displaced by systems of injustice, but what about countries, villages, and communities that have never had a system they could access at all?

Village Invest is an opportunity for me to impact the overall health and growth of a new economy while seeing a return myself.

That’s what I love about Village Invest, they allow my family and I to be apart of creating a new system that empowers, rather than shackling, the marginalized people in communities. Village Invest is an opportunity for me to impact the overall health and growth of a new economy while seeing a return myself. 

The concept of social enterprise is baked into the fabric of the Bay Area because of a number of innovative investing trends and businesses rethinking their bottom line. Village Invest is part of this trend and it gives me a platform for my finances go to work for the common good. My own bottom line changes based not only on the financial return (money that would typically just sit in a money market account anyway), but also on the livelihood of a community thousands of miles from Oakland.

Everyday choices

A number of years ago I bought what I thought was a fairly expensive rug at a fair trade event. At the time, I was with a friend and was on the fence about purchasing it even though I really loved the way it looked and the story behind it. My friend encouraged me to get the rug and said, “every time you see that rug you are going to remember there is a woman in South Africa living with Aids feeding her family off the proceeds of that rug.” She was right, every time I see that rug, I am reminded of the choice I have to contribute to the common good. In the same way, when I check on my investment in Village Invest, I get to remember that there is a family in India who has access to a new system because I chose to invest differently. I choose to contribute to making the world better one investment at a time and one individual at a time. Why? Because we need us.

We need us because lately it seems like world systems are never going to be the solution. We need us because what else but individual choice actually changes the world? We need us because we can perhaps do it more effectively, efficiently, and personally than corporations, governments, and institutions. We need us because there truly are millions of us around the globe who want the world to thrive and all it takes is for us to make choices that reflect our priorities.

We need us and Village Invest gives you direct access to joining us.