Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Elise Ortiz.
Megan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story begins in Cut ‘n Shoot, Texas – a modest town just Northeast of Houston. I am the daughter of hardworking parents who provided an excellent example of what it meant to work for everything you have. I remember beaming with pride as a child that during the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve celebrations I could select any fireworks I wanted from the stand run by my parents. I remember the smell of firewood as they dropped off bundles at various customer houses in the winter to pad the household income a bit. There was little to nothing they wouldn’t do to support our family.
No doubt as a result of their confidence I had unique experiences as a child like being elected to serve as my 4H club president at the age of 7 and as a legislative page for then Governor Bush. I had no clue what I was doing but they were always there as my cheerleaders daring me to fake it until I make it.
I’ve had the benefit of being raised amongst amazing communities – be it my school, church, sports groups or neighbors. These communities have walked with me through the ups and downs that life throws at you and helped prepare me to be the first in my family to brave a 4-year college degree. I recall my first few weeks on campus, not being quite sure what a “graduate” degree was and too scared to ask.
I can remember specifically selecting Austin as my home for the next four years because I wanted to challenge my way of thinking. At the time, Austin was the other end of the world to me.
However, be it as it may, some of my largest learning opportunities came from outside my curriculum. I developed lifelong friendships and have the deepest appreciation for the staff and faculty working behind the scenes to accept each class of students like their friend circle could never be full.
Little did I know one of most pivotal moments in my life would be the moment I welcomed my sweet baby into the world. Now, most people just know me as “Pistol’s mom”.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road is never smooth and the bumps keep you humble. As I branched out into uncharted territory beyond college, I recall feeling fearless. I was eager to move somewhere no one would know my name and I could build my career from the ground up.
You could say my first major life obstacle was the market crash of 2009. Graduating with multiple internships, I was sure a job offer would follow. As reality set in that spring I wrote my graduation speech around the acceptance of the economic fall and the opportunity we had to afford to be undecided. Life clapped back with a job offer three days later and I was sitting in a cubicle no less than two weeks from that fateful speech.
Did I mention I wanted to discover a new piece of the world? I ended up in Austin for the next three years.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Big Give Houston – what should we know?
While in Austin, I experienced my first giving day. I recall seeing the total donations number soar as Austinites worked together to support local nonprofits. I was floored. What an amazing concept.
Life moved us to San Antonio a few years later and soon after a giving day effort was born there as well. I was sure when I relocated back to Houston one already existed and I could pitch in where needed.
To my surprise, Houston – the country’s most charitable community – was without. Within a few short weeks, Big Give Houston was born and now in 2017 we’re headed into our second year of bringing local donors and nonprofits together for 24 hours.
Big Give Houston’s goal is to highlight the critical missions that are supporting over community day-to-day. In 2016 over 200 local nonprofits participated to raise over $150,000 in 24 short hours. Yet, the biggest metric of the day is that of all the donations that came in 34% of donors had not given to the nonprofits they selected prior to the giving day. At $10 minimum donation, we want to encourage the community to set aside what they can to help support local charities one day per year. To our surprise, in 2016, the average donation amount was $115.
Outside of the event, our website – www.BigGiveHouston.org – acts as a resource to learn more about our local nonprofits. Life changing work is happening in our backyard and we are called to support these missions. We hope to close the philanthropy gap a bit by bringing attention to the many deserving nonprofits. Where else can you support hundreds of nonprofits with one click?
- Website: www.BigGiveHouston.org
- Email: BigGiveHouston@gmail.com
Mars Varela for image of dog + sign in sheet