University of Richmond graduate Keith Donohue spread his philanthropic project to the city of Richmond on March 25 at the William Byrd Community House.
It was fulfilling to accomplish hands-on work for a day, even if he did not get to interact with the children, said Donohue, the creator of Positive Present, a non-profit organization promoting positive affirmation. "Nothing's below me," he said.
The goal of his current project, 50Give, which involved a service project in each American state, Washington, D.C., Mexico and Canada, was to reconfigure world culture by turning the positive images associated with volunteerism into a common state of mind, he said.
The Byrd is the home of educational programs for youth in Richmond's inner-city neighborhoods and concentrates on confidence and creativity, according to Donohue's website. The program focuses include after-school activities such as clubs, field trips and games for children and work skills such as leadership education for young adults.
Donohue, 32, said he wanted his work at the Byrd to promote a positive environment for the children because he identified with the people he helped. "I could be that kid that was born into that soul," he said.
Volunteering in an environment for children reiterates the natural human state of joy and positivity for children and for the rest of society, said Donohue, who graduated from Richmond in 2000 with a business degree.
He wants people to realize how interconnected they are to one another, he said. "The best thing I can do is actually give exposure to them," he said.
Donohue spent the day cleaning and doing maintenance work on the Byrd property such as scrubbing floors and fixing games to prepare it for inspection by the National AfterSchool Association for national accreditation, according to his website.
In addition to his passion for fundraising and improving the lives of others, he was motivated by his own past struggle with positivity, when he listened too much to the ego, he said. "I use affirmation to keep me focused and positive ... we live our lives with our minds," he said.
Donohue's time as an undergraduate at Richmond helped get his ideas started, he said. "A lot of it came through sports," he said.
Donahue played on Richmond's varsity soccer team throughout his college career, and also played for the Richmond Kickers following graduation, he said.
Richmond economics professor Erik Craft said: "I remember Keith well, as much for his personality in life and on the soccer field as for his time in my class. He had a distinctively positive and seemingly happy style about him. I can see his big playful smile."
Donohue said his sports involvement had triggered the notion of affirmation because when "you're hurting, sometimes you have to push through." The best teams he ever played on in his life were rooted in his coaches' positivity, which induced a good high, he said.
Donohue's philanthropic ambitions more or less began during his undergraduate years at Richmond, he said. The varsity soccer team often volunteered with such organizations as the Byrd and Habitat for Humanity, he said.
Management professor Roger Schnorbus said: "It does not surprise me to see what he is now doing. I would like to wish him the very, very best of luck in the future."
Donohue said he learned that volunteerism could be anything that resonated to a person. Richmond students did not need to go abroad to spread positivity through philanthropy, but could take a 10-minute car ride into the city to get involved, he said.
"If you have trouble finding yourself, go volunteer for a nonprofit," he said.
Contact staff writer Katie Toussaint at email@example.com