Right from her introduction, Courtney Quigley had the room full of Barrington Area Development Council members, philanthropic organizations, foundations and guests, full attention.
“I am constantly and forever in the works of being a dynamic and
effective humanitarian. That’s my job; it’s my title, my purpose. But
then again, isn’t it all of ours? “ Courtney Quigley
Courtney’s main theme to discussing her generation’s philanthropic focus was finding the ‘intersection of passion and compassion.’ She explained how important and life changing the intersection can be to leading a genuine existence of doing what your truly driven to do to make a difference and be happy.
“Acting compassionately and putting yourself in situations that
requires a great amount of compassion can LEAD YOU to your passion! “
Sharing her compassionate journeys, Courtney started with her family’s trips to bring playgrounds to some of the poorest populations living in tough conditions with the organization Kids Around the World, when she was just ten years old. Meeting a young orphaned little girl in Guatemala, she learned of the girl’s neglect and abuse. That recognition sparked motivation inside her to serve and help be a true agent of change. Courtney expressed gratitude to her parents for opening her eyes and heart to the world, allowing her to find deep levels of compassion - igniting passion for people in need.
She explained her connection to Potter’s House in Guatemala City, which became the catalyst to the start of Hope’s In, the charity she founded. Courtney went down on a one-month mission trip to the Garbage Dump Community in Guatemala City. She was shocked to see people running towards the garbage being dumped out of the trucks into the pit. The families in that area survive on what they can salvage from other people's trash. The homes they live in are mostly tin shacks that are not only open to the elements and often flooded, but also exposed to an aggressive rodent population. Many in the community suffer rat bites regularly and mothers of infants usually lose sleep holding their babies, so they will not suffer fatal injury from the rats.
Courtney wanted to help bring a safer living situation to members of this community. Coming back to Barrington, she and her twin sister Ashley brainstormed how they could let people know about these people in Guatemala and their circumstance. They realized that most of their friends at the time were very interested in fashion. They decided they would host a fashion show, Hope's In Style, to raise funds, but also create awareness of the people back in the Garbage Dump Community in Guatemala.
Courtney and Ashley had hoped to raise enough money to build one house for a family with the proceeds from the first show. They raised enough to build two, and engaged families who took an interest in the cause to come down to help build them as well. In 2014, they hosted another show to a sold out room at the Garlands. This second year, they raised enough to build three homes, and engaged even more volunteers to come down to Guatemala to build the homes. In addition, Dr. Dale Coy, whose family had been down on the first trip, pulled together a medical team of physicians and medical students to operate a moving clinic for the week the rest of their families would be building. They saw hundreds of patients in just a few days.
This past year, Courtney and Ashley went in college, but the passion of compassion they started, continued on. The Hope’s in Style 2015 Fashion Show, co-chaired by 2014 trip participants Laura Mena and Erin Crowther exceeded the funds necessary to build six homes. In addition, other teen participants Mitchell Stathakis, Ryan Horak and Matt Coy have championed additional efforts. With the help of the local Breakfast and Noon Rotaries and the Rotary Foundation, they have raised enough funds to build a Community Center. They are also collecting donations of shoes to bring down to donate to the people.
“When you combine what your heart loves with your mind or hand’s
skills, you find this new strength and new agency to get things done.”
Courtney explained how this Millennial Generation could be engaged to make a difference. Born between 1980 and the mid 2000’s, they are the first generation to have access to the Internet throughout their lives. Explaining why they spend so much time on Social Media. They have also had access to the most information via the Internet and have had the opportunity to share their ideas and challenge those of others.
With knowledge of Photoshop, being exposed to sensational news hooks and the knowledge that many things are manipulated online, this generation is always in search of authentic stories and examples of tolerance. They know that real life is quite different than what is represented in many stories, television programs, magazines and movies. They want to live lives that are purposeful. Many looking to careers advocating a cause or championing to make a difference.
Courtney is currently finishing up her freshman year at New York University majoring in Nonprofit Organization Management with a minor in Spanish. She explained that the university, and many other colleges and universities across the country, have new majors and minors of studies to meet the demand of her generation. Many include Social Entrepreneurship and Public Policy.
“What does this say specifically about the future? It says that young
people are being educated at very high levels to become effective
She explained how many of her peers look to do “alternative breaks” which are trips organized by students and staff to travel around the world to serve and make a difference. With access to information, stories of what life is like in impoverished areas and challenging environmental conditions, her generation is ready to make a difference. Courtney challenged the leaders of organizations in the room asking:
“How your organization is going to take advantage of a highly
motivated, diverse, educated and outspoken cohort of youth?“
She shared how many large organizations are already seeing the value of partnering with her peers. She explained her role as an intern as part of the United Nations. She is a youth representative for an organization called NAFSA: Association of International Educators. She explained that she is not alone and that there is an entire division of Youth Reps at the UN. Youth Reps are treated as valuable representatives of their prospective organizations and empowered to take part and be actively involved.
Courtney again turned to the guests at the BADC dinner and asked:
“Is your organization engaging youth? Do you trust them with
responsibility? Are you empowering a sense of agency within them?"
Courtney encouraged the Barrington Area Development Council and their guests to engage with her generation, share their organizations goals, purpose and inspiration. Also, to listen to what her generation may have to input. These partnerships could make a difference in an organizations viability into the future. The engaged next generation could arrive at the intersection of Passion and Compassion within an organization or agency in attendance at the BADC annual dinner.