A Little Help Goes A Long Way



Editor's Note: In recognition of Earth Day, we caught up with our Environment & Energy Circle Co-Chairs to learn more about their Full Circle Fund experiences. To read more from Environment & Energy Circle Co-Chair Michael Spiegelman click here.


By Jon Relyea, FCF Environment & Energy Circle Co-Chair and Regional Director of Sales at Oracle


Like many others in the Bay Area, I’m not from here originally. I was first exposed to volunteering when I was a philanthropy chair in my fraternity at the University of Minnesota. I was tasked with finding fairly simple, one-time events where a group of 30 guys could go pick up trash on a walkway, pull weeds, or wrap donated Christmas presents.


When my wife, Jackie, and I moved to the Bay Area in 2014, naturally we flocked to similar one-time volunteering activities. But living in a bustling area like this, it was really difficult to feel like we were making much of a difference by putting apples into a bin at the local food shelf. Wasn’t there something more effective we could be doing to help the local community?


Cue Full Circle Fund! Our first exposure was launch night in 2017. The stage was set, the Grant Partners each presented their mission and volunteer projects, and we were hooked. We felt an immediate connection and stayed for close to two hours after the presentation, meeting dozens of motivated people from different walks of life.

FCF is a very forward-thinking organization, and with their evolution as an organization, Jackie and I also evolved in our giving. I had the pleasure of working on a grant project team with a local genius (Gavin McCormick, founder of WattTime) and quickly learned that there are tons of smart people in this community I wanted to meet and work with. FCF was the vessel to bring them all together, and the local causes benefitted the most. I am not an energy or environmental expert by any means--I am in tech sales--so I have certainly learned even more than I have likely contributed. In the case of WattTime, I was able to share a little bit of my methodology from my day job, and it resulted in some really great strides for their organization. Others on the team did the same and WattTime doubled their revenue as a result. Wow.


Four years after that first launch night, Jackie is now a board Treasurer at 3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic (2019 FCF Grant Partner), and I was just invited to join the board of Community Education Partnerships (2020 FCF Grant Partner).


The biggest lesson of all for me is that a little help can go a LONG way for these non-profit organizations. Everyone in the FCF community has something special to share--the key is finding what that is. For me, it has been the Environment and Energy subject area where I now Co-Chair the Circle. I always enjoyed the outdoors, but never knew how much work it truly takes to preserve the local parks, our power and energy consumption, and our food systems. FCF gave me the opportunity to learn that first-hand. Our Environment & Energy Circle Grant Partners are the ones that are giving some serious blood, sweat and tears to support the systems that we all get to enjoy as a community. I may have a different day job than they do, but we all care deeply about the community we share. What better cause is there than that?


To learn more about Membership, other Impact Areas and how to get involved, click here.

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