The Power of One: Part Two – Gen Y

“Close your eyes. Picture a world without hunger. Open your eyes. I ate your sandwich.” – @primawesome

One certainly doesn’t represent the whole, but surely statistics cannot trump the power of one. In this series, I am looking at individuals from every generation. Last time I spoke with a Gen Z (my daughter) about her experience at We Day. This time, I want to get at that thorn in everyone’s side: the Millennial.

To do this, I chatted with one of my favourite Twitter peeps, Mike Primavera (or @primawesome if you’re so inclined, and you should be!) Away from the world of 140 character boob and beard jokes, Mike is an incredibly talented writer, artist and humourist. He hosts a hilarious podcast called Don’t Do It Yourself and is gearing up to host his own radio show in Seattle this coming winter.

He’s also a donation coordinator and volunteer mentor for a nonprofit that benefits at risk youth.

That’s right, friends. Just because Millennials make jokes about dog shit on Twitter doesn’t mean we’re not incredibly motivated to make powerful changes to our world.

I’ve never had a windshield wiper setting that truly satisfied me

Mike was raised by a single mother in a rough neighbourhood in San Francisco, or as he puts it, “the definition of at risk youth.” As a kid, he spent a lot of time in local community centres, and accredits the men and women who volunteered their time there to keeping him out of trouble and inspiring him to give back to his community in the same way he had been given to. “If it wasn’t for [them] I might not have made it out of that neighbourhood.”

This is his inspiration for giving.

“I want to do whatever I can to reach as many kids as possible to make a positive difference in their lives,” says Mike. “The time I put in with kids is hopefully building a strong foundation of hope. Instilling good values and work ethic are my main goals.”

For Mike, his time is worth far more than his money. Statistics about Millennials suggest the same: we may not yet be able to contribute financially what our parents and grandparents can, but we can and will set our minds and hearts passionately on your cause.

But we want to see results.

Please stay on the line. Your call is important to us. We think we might be in love with your call. We made your call a mix tape.

“The worst thing you can do to a kid is say you’re going to do something and not follow through,” says Mike. “If I support a charity that helps kids, I need to be 100% convinced that they have the children’s best interest at heart. Following through on promises is huge for me.”

This desire for transparency is widespread. Be honest about what you want to do, and follow through. And when you can’t, be honest about that too.

And be careful with your money.

“Charities that just throw money at the problem bug me. Funding alone doesn’t solve anything. It’s how the funds are implemented that make the difference.”

Mike also sees the value in volunteer capital. He knows the value of time, and doesn’t want to be pressured by a premature ask. “I prefer to volunteer my time rather than my money, and I need that to be ok. I don’t like it when I volunteer my time and am constantly harassed to donate money too. With money, I’m not sure where it’s going, but with my time I can be sure.”

If we keep building giant walls at the border to Mexico it’s only a matter of time before natural selection gives us giant Mexicans.

The biggest wall around Millennials seems to be how to communicate with them. Stats say Millennials are on social media, so that’s where charities should be. Mike, however, has a different take.

“I like the personal touch,” he says. “I like to get emails, but I’m really more of a meet in person kind of guy. I prefer eye contact and a handshake if I can get it.”

And what about social media?

“I do like social media, but honestly a nice email or even an actual letter would be preferable.”

Mike’s story makes me grin from ear to ear. He makes me belly laugh via Twitter on a regular basis, and his commitment to kids in his community makes me stand and applaud. Entitled Millennial? Please. This “kid” is just one of so many who is passionate about making a difference, and he’s certainly well on his way.

*all my headings from this post are tweets from Mike. Seriously. Do yourself a favour an invest in a dose of daily laughter.