PUBLISHED IN THE GREENVILLE NEWS ON APRIL 22, 2012

By Debbie Nelson

It’s no secret that Greenville is great place to live.

I believe that a sometimes underestimated, yet significant, part of what makes Greenville so great is the collective efforts taken on by the many charitable organizations in our community.

As a Greenville resident and owner of DNA Creative Communications, a communications firm that works directly with nonprofits, I have had the privilege to see accomplishments come full-circle for these remarkable organizations.

On a daily basis I have the opportunity to meet and get to know the countless individuals that make differences in our community. Seeing firsthand the passion they have for their cause motivated me to partner with the Community Foundation of Greenville to create our “Shine the Light on Your Nonprofit” seminar series. Over the past two years, 160 nonprofits across the Upstate have attended the series to learn how to enhance their communications’ efforts and drive their important missions forward. My team and I have yet to meet a nonprofit that did not inspire us.

Each introduction to a new nonprofit brings a new story, equally impressive, of how one person’s tenacity results in actions that generate great impact. I respect and watch in awe of the people who are driven by this extraordinary level of benevolent spirit. I admire the tenacity of those individuals who commit selflessly to a cause…nothing holds them back, and any challenge is viewed as an opportunity to share their cause with another.

It is not hard to spot the organizations to which I am referring – just look around you. More than likely, you are a contributor and supporter to one of them. Whether it’s hunger, homelessness, abuse or otherwise, Greenville has strong cause ambassadors tackling these vast and complex issues. We have a community where individuals take great pride in where they live – and work to make it a little better, each and every day. As a community, it’s in our DNA.

April 20th is DNA day. It commemorates the discovery of DNA’s double helix and the completion of the Human Genome Project. While this is a significant day for science, it is also a noteworthy day for all of us. DNA is the genetic material that determines our structure…it is the core element of our identity. Without it, we would not exist.

The most important property of DNA is that it can replicate and make copies of itself. Each strand of DNA in the double helix serves as a pattern for this duplication sequence. We believe that we can take this property a step further. Community involvement can replicate…each act of kindness can serve as a patter for others to duplicate. Eventually, a chain reaction occurs, and lives are changed for the better.

Take a moment and consider what moves and inspires you. Think about your passions and how they define your character and happiness. Then, seek out ways to get more involved in our community through them. Find an organization to volunteer with or serve on its board; donate your time or money, advocated for its cause and spread its message in your social networks. Our community’s nonprofit organizations are the core element, the DNA, of what makes Greenville so great. So, find an organization that best represents who YOU are and get involved.

Making a difference starts in our own communities – the places where we live, work and study. Mother Teresa once said that “we can do no great things – only small things with great love.” Just as every nonprofit within our community began as a small idea brought to life with great love, we as individuals can do the same in our everyday lives.

So I challenge you to start and continue this chain reaction today…volunteer to read to young children, deliver meals to homebound seniors, participate in a river sweet or conserve water on a daily basis, mentor a young person, encourage a coworker to go back to school or simply pass along a great book you have just finished reading. And always remember that one small, thoughtful action can make someone else’s day and serve as an example for others.

Do not be afraid to speak up and stand up for what you believe in. Have the courage to take action and be the voice for those who go unheard. Stay committed to your values and seek opportunities for change in our community. Believe in yourself and help others believe in themselves, too. Do not do great things – only small things with great love!