April is National Volunteer Month — a whole month dedicated to honoring the significant contributions of volunteers within our communities. By donating their time and talents, volunteers address community needs and create lasting impact.
It’s the generosity of volunteers that inspired Matthew Goldstein to found Besa, a nonprofit that connects people with local charities — from food pantries and community gardens to homeless shelters and senior homes.
We’re proud to feature Matthew as this month’s guest columnist to share more about Besa and the volunteers who make the work possible. Our community is stronger because of it!
— Mollard Consulting
My career began in corporate America right after college. I liked the work, the travel, the people. But I was most fulfilled on Saturday mornings in the cramped office where I volunteered for Suicide Prevention Services.
There were others like me, too — young professionals who wanted to give back. But finding volunteer opportunities to fit our schedules was challenging.
So, I left corporate America to build a bridge between people and need. We called the nonprofit Besa, which is an Albanian term that means “to keep a promise.”
Besa is dedicated to powering a wave of civic engagement that changes the world. We make giving back easy and transformative by:
- Partnering with over 100 nonprofits to understand community needs and direct resources to those needs.
- Curating over 70 meaningful volunteer opportunities each month that people community-wide can sign up for and participate in.
- Working with businesses to build philanthropic strategies through strategy development, volunteer programming, and custom software.
In 10 years, we have mobilized over 60,000 volunteers to complete over 10,000 service projects and make $50M in community impact.
When COVID upended life in the spring of 2020, nonprofits all over Central Ohio turned to Besa —including the City of Columbus itself. They needed volunteers to deliver meals. Distribute food. Package masks. Show up. Meanwhile, Columbus companies called asking what they could do. They all trusted Besa to understand where the greatest need was and mobilize human power to help.
It was a moment Besa was built for. And thanks to an incredible staff and an amazing army of dependable volunteers, we delivered. Because of Besa, $30,000 in supplies were directed to frontline nonprofits in COVID’s first desperate weeks. Because of Besa, 12,000 volunteers were rallied to give over 30,000 hours across Columbus during one of the nation’s largest volunteer shortages. Because of Besa, the Bread of Life food pantry in North Linden was able to keep its doors open on Fridays throughout the pandemic.
There is a lot of dark in the world. We see it hourly with news alerts delivered straight to our pockets and through social media posts from across the globe. It’s inarguably there.
But the light I see is so much brighter. The kindness I witness is so much bigger.
It’s in volunteers who spend Tuesday nights baking cookies at Ronald McDonald House. Wednesday nights packing diapers to help mothers in Franklinton. Saturday mornings helping East Side residents shop the food pantry.
As we celebrate national volunteer month, I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the companies in this community that give generously in so many ways. Gratitude for the nonprofit colleagues who work to creatively address challenges. Gratitude for the individuals who keep showing up with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts.
Thank you, Columbus. I dreamed of building a bridge between people and need. You demanded that it get wider and stronger and longer. And you’ve continued showing up to build it with us.
Article by: Matthew Goldstein, Founder & CEO, Besa