Last fall, while I was out living in Washington, DC, I saw unreal levels of poverty and homelessness. After moving back to Virginia in October, I woke up one morning and decided that I was going to start making a difference in my community. I said I was going to create my own non-profit organization and I started right away: no name, no LLC, no real website – just my mind and my goal to help others. It wasn’t until this past January where I finally created, an organization that is focused on helping people in need and getting others involved in their own communities. This project has been a brainchild of mine for a very long time. I’ve never had a dream job, a goal career, or anything of the sort. All I’ve ever been sure about is that I wanted to help people out.

My first move was to get adequate winter clothing for the homeless and those in shelters. Between the money I put up myself and donations I solicited through Twitter, I was able to raise approximately $1,500 USD. I’m still speechless today when I think about what we were able to accomplish last year. I mean, dude – we ended up with six 18-gallon containers of hats, scarves, toothbrushes, jackets and even envelopes of bus passes!

What I did was great, but I believe that most people are compassionate and would jump at the chance to help others as well. Although when it comes to giving back, there’s one recurring theme I always hear from people trying to help: they don’t know where to start. That’s how Make Caring Cool came to be.

The goal of the organization is to provide anyone in need with whatever they need to survive, and whatever they need to provide for their families. I also want to get everyone involved in their own community, feeling comfortable with reaching out and giving back in different ways. With the help of others, I’ve been able to provide full shelters with Christmas gifts, sending over 1,000 gallons of water to Flint, MI during their water crisis, and even organizing different groups to tutor homeless children in my city.

I’m always going to do my own thing with giving back, but what’s more important to me is getting you the people involved. You don’t need a nonprofit, money, or even a website. All you need is your voice and dedication. Tutor a kid in your neighborhood after work. Buy a homeless man some lunch and sit with them for a minute. Get some friends together and spend time at a shelter. There’s a massive opportunity to create change in this sometimes-wicked world, and it all starts with us.

Whatever you want to do, believe in it wholeheartedly. You can make a difference.

Nicholas Bailey