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Nov 9 - Dec 31, 2023

The Good Life

The key to a meaningful life is to make an impact, small or large.

By Bradley Zeve

I recently celebrated my friend Marty’s 60th birthday, complete with enchiladas, a little añejo tequila, and one impromptu birthday candle in a fresh apple (Marty doesn’t like cake). He isn’t much for self-congratulations and would have been perfectly content with no such public recognition for his milestone event. But a few of his friends would have nothing of that humble sentiment.

Marty grew up in San Jose, graduated from UC Santa Cruz and never thought he’d make it to 30 years old, much less 60. It wasn’t that Marty was living a hard life, he wasn’t running with a fast crowd, wasn’t taking drugs or even drinking much. His father is an alcoholic and Marty wanted a different path. But Marty came out as gay in his 20s, at time when HIV/AIDS was rampant and presented an inherent risk. That time now feels long ago, thanks largely to a dedicated movement – driven in no small part by nonprofit leadership – to invest in medical research and treatments. Even though my friend is now 60, he still doesn’t think much about making it to another big birthday, 70 or 80. He is a self-proclaimed pragmatic and simply wants to live a meaningful life, and for Marty that means this: “making an impact, whether small or large, it doesn’t matter.”

I was thinking about his words and in a nutshell, that’s the essence of Monterey County Gives!, a project the Weekly has championed with great partners, and which has raised over $35 million since its inception 10 years ago.

Some of the participants in MCGives! are well funded and well staffed, and have critical roles in our community – for example helping feed the hungry, house the homeless and care for those living on the edge. Many organizations are tiny in comparison, run by a handful of staff or entirely by volunteers, led by a devoted board of directors. Their missions may be smaller in scale, their impact may be harder to measure, but their organization is included in Monterey County Gives! because our team believes they can – and do, and will – make an impact.

My invitation is for you to read about all of these big and small organizations (in this print edition or online, at mcgives.com) and to donate $10 or $10,000, whatever you can afford. Visit the website and “like” the nonprofits that share your passion (this will help when you get to the checkout process), and click “share” to bring in others. Choose one or a handful to support with a donation. They need your support, as doing nonprofit work is an act of service and the work is never, ever complete.

Your donation through Monterey County Gives! can have life-changing benefits for the people and places and animals that receive a nonprofit’s services – and will also add meaning to your life. You’ll be making an impact in a concrete, simple and measurable way. Marty will be pleased to know his wisdom may be inspirational to others. Please join him.

Thank you.

BRADLEY ZEVE is the Founder & CEO of Monterey County Weekly/ Monterey County NOW (and champion of Monterey County Gives!)