Guest Blogger: Avery Gleason
As a millennial, my generation has been described in some pretty colorful terms– spoiled, entitled, the ‘me’ generation.
We get a bad rap for being uninspired, uninvolved, and undeserving, all while still living in our parents’ basements. A quick google search of millennials brings up the now infamous 2013 Times Magazine cover of a young girl taking a selfie with the titled “The Me, Me, Me, Generation” floating over her head. On the surface, it would seem our generation is doomed to be lackluster and self involved. In reality, however, is all this anti-millennial talk really warranted? Are we really doomed to be the Me Generation?
Simply put, no. millennials are hungry to have an impact on our communities. According to the Millennial Impact Report 2016, an annual assessment of millennial philanthropic trends produced by the Case Foundation, over 80% of millennials gave in 2014. Case went as far as calling millennials the “next Greatest Generation” due to our generosity and commitment to civic engagement. Millennials are not only generous with their dollars, but also with their time and talents, volunteering more than their older counterparts. Millennials feel compelled to not just sit on the sidelines, but to lead and do the messy work of making our world a better place. I’ve seen it firsthand.
Over the last year, through many conversations with staff at Ozone House, the idea for creating a way for millennials to be involved with the great work that happens here has been evolving. In Washtenaw County there are countless millennials who are driven and motivated to give back, but how exactly does a millennial do this? Most young people think they have to wait until they are more financially well-off to give back, and to most baby boomers the idea of giving a millennial any responsibility is heart-attack inducing. Luckily, at Ozone House millennials aren’t just welcomed and working. We’re leading.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of working with an incredible group of millennials as a part of Ozone House’s Millennial Board. The Millennial Ozone Board, or MOB as we’ve come to call it, is a group of highly engaged young professionals who act as fundraisers and social justice advocates to improve the lives of youth at risk of homelessness. We want to be the microphone of Ozone House, amplifying the important message that the most vulnerable young people in our community need safe spaces like Ozone House. As a platform for channeling the unique and often misunderstood energies and talents of millennials, it is our hope that the MOB will serve as an innovative blueprint of millennial engagement as we continue to grow. From social media, to direct appeal fundraising, and flash community awareness campaigns, the MOB is ready to bring Ozone House to whole new audiences and highlight voices of Ozone House.
These millennials who are a part of the MOB inspire me every single day. So far in our short history we’ve talked to hundreds of people about the work of Ozone House. It seems like every day we utter the phrase, “did you know?”, because what we’ve found is that people care about homeless youth, they just have to know it’s real and it’s affecting our neighbors, our community, and our children. The MOB represents the best of this generation and the millennial spirit. We don’t just want to give, we want to solve, to be involved and to be inspired. We are engaged in political organizing, social justice, and nonprofit organizations like Ozone House that champion our best values and usher in our generation’s world views, but we’re doing it all in our own way. So the next time someone calls millennials spoiled, entitled, or a part of the “me generation”, I hope what comes to mind is not only Ozone House and the MOB, but all the determined and fiercely passionate young people that you know in your life that make up the next Greatest Generation.
Avery Gleason, UM ’15 is a Business Intelligence Analyst at Office of University Development at the University of Michigan. Read more about Avery on our Team page.