charity, generosity, gifts, nature, New York City, nonprofit, outdoors

In a Spirit of Giving

Just another day on the Great Lawn in Central Park
Just another day on the Great Lawn in Central Park

“You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.” The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

The universe always rises up to support someone with a passion to do something of value for others.

I think about this quote a lot when people ask me about Compass Yoga‘s partnership with the New York Public Library. We offer 9 weekly classes at different library branches in Manhattan, all free of charge to anyone who walks through the door. Over the past two years since we began offering the classes, a number of people have asked me how I make sure the people who are in the class really need it. What they’re really asking is how do I feel about them coming to our classes for free while they have the means to pay for classes elsewhere.

We certainly do have students who could afford to pay something for a class – perhaps not the $20 or so it costs for many classes around the city, but certainly something. A few of our students have given donations to Compass Yoga because they are of means and support our work. I wish others who are of means would do the same. Perhaps in time they will. Other people have given their time and expertise to support our work. Other people don’t have the means at all, but they bring their energy and dedication to class every week.

There’s another New York-based charity that operates under the same circumstances as Compass Yoga: NYC Parks. Consider how often New Yorkers take advantage of the beauty of Central Park, or any of the other public parks in the city, on a  sunny day? How many of them have donated money to NYC Parks? Certainly not all of them, maybe not even most of them. I wish more people would donate, though the parks don’t discriminate. They don’t have a giant gate around them demanding payment before entry. Compass Yoga has the same philosophy as Central Park: to be free and open to all who enter.

I started Compass to bring more yoga to more people in more places, no strings attached. I also started it so that yoga teachers who are just starting out could get experience teaching. I wanted to build a bridge between the people who need what yoga has to offer and the people who have the training to teach. I know if we stay true to that goal and work hard at creative fundraising strategies, eventually the funding will flow. The trickle has already begun; now its our job to do our best to carve it into the Mississippi for the sake of all our students.