Becoming the Helpers: What do we do now?

Fifteen years ago, my best friend and I started the organization now called Activate Good with a goal of closing the gap between our community’s enormous needs and the numerous people in our community who wanted to do good – but just didn’t know where to start. Since then, we’ve made over 70,000 connections between locals – ‘helpers’ – and hundreds of nonprofits, schools, and community institutions who rely on volunteer support to feed and educate children, house families, and lift up neighbors struggling with addiction, joblessness, and more.

A lot has changed since we started. Change happened especially quickly and suddenly this year, throwing the world off its balance. But when the COVID-19 pandemic came to North Carolina and its reach grew, we knew one thing remained the same: People out there in our community wanted to do good. To be of service. To help.

When Bisi Cameron Yee approached us this Spring seeking a way to use her talents, we knew exactly what we needed to do: Shine a huge light on what’s going right, who’s doing good, and launch a rallying call for others to join in.

Activate Good’s ‘Look for the Helpers’ Photojournalism Project is our love letter to the people and the many organizations in our community mobilizing, coordinating, fixing, supporting, helping – often quietly, behind the scenes, and rarely recognized for the incredible work they do. It is our way of sharing and amplifying not only a message of hope – but a call to action. It’s about finding a way forward for our community, country, and the world by doing more of the good work these helpers have been taking on all along – and by inviting everyone to join them.

You see, it’s going to take a lot more ‘helpers’ rising up and taking action with compassion, persistence, and thoughtful intention to get us out of this. We’re calling for an unprecedented mobilization of love in action unlike the Triangle and the world has ever seen. We believe we all have a responsibility to work towards a better world for all. And we believe that people are capable of rising above these times to make it happen – if we decide to, and plan the route together. So here’s what you can do, right now, to get started:

  1. Get informed. Take time to dive in, research, and seek to truly understand complex issues that impact our community, from homelessness to hunger to education and much more. There are no easy solutions for major social issues, but with an informed, thoughtful community, we can work together to develop and get behind some effective solutions.
  2. Volunteer. Activate Good is recruiting community members to support hundreds of volunteer needs, and the needs are increasing every week. Volunteer in-person if you can do so safely, or remotely from home.
  3. If you can, support a cause you care about with a donation. There are over 40 represented in our ‘Look for the Helpers’ Photojournalism Project alone, but thousands more around the Triangle. Need a place to start? Here are about 500+ Community Partners we’ve worked with in the past. If you’re inspired to support Activate Good’s efforts, you can do that too.

Our community, the country, and the world face enormous challenges as part of or resulting from the pandemic – but together, person to person, helper to helper, we can get past this and create a better world on the other side of it. So we hope you’ll take in each photo, each caption and story, and consider as you do: How can I help? Then, get started. We’re here to help find your starting point if you need us (that’s what we do!). And, we’ll be with you along the way.

Amber Smith
Founder and Executive Director,
Activate Good