11:35 am - Sunday September 24, 2017

Would You Know an Angel if You Saw One?

Philanthropist Aims to Change Society

As a longtime fundraising consultant for charities and civic-minded organizations, John Shimer says he’s witnessed firsthand the work of countless “human angels on Earth.”

Wouldn’t we be better off if we saw more about them in the media than the enraged, crazed, and depraved among us, he asks.

“If you want people to be their best, or just better than they are, you need to shine a light on what that looks like. People tend to become what they see,” says Shimer, a director of Fortune Family Foundation, a charitable corporation, and author of “Turn Right at the Dancing Cow,” (www.dancingcowbook.com), the story of a human angel from Seattle who launched a vocational school in the bush of Uganda.

“More and more, our news is about people doing horrible things. What does that teach our society? Our children? I believe we’ve reached a critical point – we need to address this now! We need a counter-punch campaign that can help us to believe in ourselves again.”

And so Shimer has created one. The new Angels Among Us Project (www.angelsamongusproject.org) will honor “hometown human angels” across the United States and Canada by sharing their stories through TV and other media.

Part 2 of the project is to recognize select non-profit organizations and provide them with the tools they need to fundraise more effectively.

“Fundraising is what I know and charitable organizations are struggling,” Shimer says. “The best way I can be an angel myself is to donate my time to teach some of them how to organize for success and raise money.”

There are two ways to become involved in Angels Among Us:

• Nominate someone for an Angel on Earth award. Human angels are everywhere, but we usually don’t see them — 99 percent of them are invisible to us, Shimer says. They’re the tutors in disadvantaged schools; the people delivering Meals on Wheels to the elderly; the teams of workers retro-fitting homes for war veterans returning home with disabilities. “Individuals or groups can nominate an angel simply by visiting the Angels Among Us Project website and telling their stories,” Shimer says. The project will produce professional video packages about some of these “higher purpose heroes” for distribution online and to local media.

• Enlist your organization to become an Angel Seeker. Shimer hopes to ally with non-profits around the country to raise awareness about Angels Among Us. “In order to make it truly effective – to get the kind of attention that makes people notice – it needs to be a grassroots campaign,” Shimer says. “We want to celebrate the angels already among us and inspire others with their example, so the idea needs to catch fire.” For the first 10 non-profit groups that embrace this campaign in their own community, Shimer will volunteer his time to teach them how to organize for success and raise money to support their work – at no charge.

“I’m excited about this project,” Shimer says. “We’re all capable of doing terrible things, but we’re also capable of doing wonderful things. Imagine what might happen if we see more examples of the good in the media than the bad.”

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