‘I want my work to make a difference’

                                                  ( A customer buying fresh vegetables at a local farmers’ market)  

There are people in the professional working world who wake up every morning to go to work and make a difference in the world. This is one of those ideals that every job seeker and career-getter aspire to have; that their work is influential in someone’s life. The dream that their efforts have made a change for the betterment of a community, a family or an individual. For some it may be becoming a professor or a doctor but there is no reward sweeter than writing “philanthropist” on a resume.

Philanthropy is a unique field of speciality. It has been defined vaguely as “the art of loving people.” To work in the nonprofit sector requires a certain level of compassion and selflessness. It is not typically the initial career option that one pursues, but many people, especially women, find themselves devoted to philanthropic work.

Amy Blankstein is one of these women. Blankstein works for the New York City based organization, “JustFood.” They are dedicated to educating urban neighborhoods about organic food from the soil to the farmer’s markets in the city. Their mission is to bring their knowledge into areas where there is less access to fresh produce and train community members in the agricultural and culinary arts with a healthy twist.

“We connect New Yorkers with local farmers and we focus on empowering communities to make changes to help bring in local produce into their neighborhoods,” said Blankstein, “we want people to go ahead and buy a zucchini or a bok choy so that they make healthier eating decisions.”

Blankstein is the Development Director and works with the communications team of JustFood. However, like many philanthropists, she did not begin her career path in the nonprofit world. After making her career in publishing, the food-lover felt that she wanted to do more. “I wanted to use my skills for something more meaningful and I have always been a fan of good food so I wanted to learn more about where food was coming from and what drove people to be volunteers, advocates for the community,” she said, “they were people to identify with who were doing really important work.”

And many of those people who are doing the important work are women. According the “Women Give 2014” study conducted by the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, there are more women working in philanthropy and give two times larger amounts to nonprofits than their male counterparts.

They study concluded that women do more philanthropic work and give more charitable donations but overall, continue to make less than men. Blankstein, who works in a female dominated staff, believes that women are possibly more content making lower salaries but there is a greater purpose to their work.

“The value mission-focused job weighs over income,” she explained.

The non-profit world is always welcoming for anyone wanting to help. That ideal job description, “I want my work to make a difference” is the reality for people like Blankstein and for the thousands of female philanthropist that work in the nonprofit sector of society.

Blankstein is proud of her work with JustFood and all the organization has accomplished since founded in 1995. JustFood has gained a network of 27 community run farmer’s markets over the past few years, and that is truly something to be proud of. “The ability at the end of the day to know that the work I’m doing is a driver of change, it’s exciting and I am making a difference in the community.”

Allison Surgeary

Photo Credit: Just Foods