You could say that Natalie Ebel had experience taking care of children long before she became pregnant. As the Chief Marketing Officer of Pencils of Promise, Natalie has worked tirelessly to empower children all over the world by providing education to primary school students in developing countries like Guana, Guatemala and Laos. Pencils of Promise has already build nearly 400 schools, serving close to 70,000 students.
And yet, Natalie believes that becoming a parent and being present for her daughter could be much more challenging. After all, raising children comes with the great responsibility of helping them to become genuinely good people.
So it’s no surprise that her work has made an impact as she preps to welcome her baby girl. Not only has the Pencils of Promise team swarmed Natalie to help her prepare for her new child, taking photos, getting her ready for maternity leave, and even designing custom art for her nursery. But they’ve also been her moral compass, and with their work demonstrated the values she hopes to instill in her own daughter.
Here are 3 things about philanthropic life that are also important to keep in mind when it comes to parenting.
1. You can give back in so many ways. It doesn’t have to be money. Resources, connections, time, talents and abilities--what you have to offer can make a huge impact on those around you, and a lot can grow from a seemingly small start. Much like Pencils of Promise, which grew from a tiny seed into a global movement, the power of accumulated efforts can’t be underestimated.
2. Education is critical. There are 250 million children in the world who can’t read or write, and their work has been to open doors for them by improving literacy. For young women in particular, being able to read and write helps to close the gender gap, empowering them to make life choices and reach the goals they set for themselves. “Many drop out of school when they start their periods because they don’t understand their cycle,” Natalie said. Giving them these skills is in a large way, giving them an understanding of who they are in the world.
3. Nothing replaces a human connection. In a world where millennial moms have a hard time disconnecting from their phones and their social media feeds, she thinks one of the most important things she can do for her daughter is teach her to be in the moment. So she hopes to set a good example by leaving her phone behind and being truly present for her. “The kids in the schools we build don’t have smartphones and all that,” she noticed. “But they have a genuine interest, playfulness, and curiosity. Nothing replaces a human connection”