We Are All Superheroes
We are all superheroes with our own superpowers.
We each have special talents that make us unique. We use them everyday, often not knowing the power we yield. We posses the skills to mold and shape the people living and working and playing within the buildings we create.
As superheroes we also have an obligation to use our powers for good. We have the responsibility to give back to the society that has granted us the status of superhero.
As you may know from previous articles, our firm name, Fivecat Studio, is not only a unique, memorable brand. It is also a tool for us to tell our own personal story. In addition to providing residential architectural services for high-end small projects, Annmarie and I are advocates for homeless pets throughout Westchester County, New York.
For many years, Annmarie and I organized an event called Pillows for Puppies, where we collected blankets, cushions, toys and pillows for the many homeless dogs living in the local animal shelters in the region. Over the years, we have collected hundreds of items and have helped countless disadvantaged pups be a little warmer and live more comfortable lives while they wait for their forever homes.
Today, that event has evolved into Annmarie dedicating much of her week to volunteering at the Westchester SPCA, where she donates her time training dogs (and people) on how to be good citizens; teaching them proper etiquette and manners in hopes to attract a loving adopting family.
We are all very powerful.
We all have a story to share and skills that may help make the world a better place. I know we are all very busy. We are all trying to find the time to get our own work done, but it doesn’t take much effort to make a difference. When you are ready, it just takes some commitment and a little bit of action.
Here are five simple ways that architects can give back.
1. Provide Architecture Pro Bono Services
Everyone can benefit from the services we architects can provide, but there are many groups that cannot afford or may greatly benefit from obtaining our services without charge. (Architecture pro bono services.) A simple way to give back is to allocate a percentage of your services to groups in need. Make them a client, add them to your jobs list and serve them as you would a paying client. Make them happy customers and you may be surprised at what happens. Most charitable organizations are lead by boards of influential members, who in their everyday lives make decisions to hire architects for their private homes or businesses. Sometimes giving back leads to getting back.
2. Run Your Own Event
Our Pillows for Puppies event was always a great success. We launched every Thanksgiving when everyone feels a little more giving and we ended the event just after the new year, when people are looking to make space in their homes for all their new holiday acquisitions. We used our design skills to create an eye-catching flyer, posted them around the region in the windows of local shops and dropped them at local offices. We used our centrally located studio as a drop point for donations and offered to pick up large items and quantities as needed. Even though we haven’t run the event recently, every winter we still receive calls from locals looking to donate their pillows and blankets and we still pick up and deliver to our K9 friends.
3. Sponsor a Charity Event
I know we are all very busy with our firms and our families. Finding the time to donate may be difficult to do, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make a difference. Reach out to those you seek to support. Every charitable group organizes fundraising events and they are all requesting local businesses to become sponsors. Your financial support is just as valuable as your time.
4. Swing a Hammer
Habitat for Humanity is an organization that builds homes for deserving families and supports communities throughout the world. Building Homes for Heroes is a similar group that builds and modifies homes for those who were injured while serving their country during times of war. What better way for an architect to make a difference than to swing a hammer and help to build a home? Organize your local community of architects and donate your time together as a team.
5. Design for a Cause
When we launched Fivecat Studio in 1999, we were looking for ways to get noticed. We built a website and shared the news of our new firm with anyone who would listen. We also became members of specific local organizations where we could connect directly with the people we wanted to serve. We become corporate members of the local fine art museum as well as a regional center for music. We met many influential people and our name was included in the “we thank the members” lists on every event program. That first year, as a member of the museum, we were invited among a half dozen local architects to design an “architectural dog house”, which was then auctioned to the highest bidder during their annual fundraising event. Our design raised money for the museum and our name was shared with dozens of potential clients.
Question: What are some ways YOU give back to your community as an architect?
Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Yuganov Konstantin