"I really do believe that you shouldn't wait till you have the money to give, you should give whatever you can when you can. As you get more, you're able to give more, and then you're in the mind-set to give." Mike Tacelosky, 42, created his own charitable fund under the auspices of the Community Foundation a couple of years ago. It's this fund he dips into to support such organizations as DC Vote, Jews United for Justice, Men Can Stop Rape and the Guatemala Human Rights Commission.
Tacelosky, who operates consumer and travel Web sites, cites the Jewish philosophy of "tzedakah" as an inspiration for his giving. "Tzedakah is loosely translated as 'charity,' " he says, and it means "everybody should give. Even somebody who receives tzedakah should give. No matter how little they have." It's a philosophy akin to the Christian idea of stewardship, Tacelosky says. "The idea is you don't really own anything. You're given an opportunity to have these resources while you're on Earth, and you choose how they're spent."
There's opportunity and then there's passion. Tacelosky is so passionate about making Washington, D.C., a smoke-free city that he made his home phone number 202-NO-SMOKE. The Dupont Circle resident is one of the co-founders of Smokefree DC, an organization of Washington area residents, workers and visitors who support smoke-free workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
"I've been involved with two main areas of nonprofit and volunteer work since the 1980s," Tacelosky says, "Central American advocacy and tobacco control." But he has been volunteering most of his life. "In college I started working with the homeless, doing work in soup kitchens and sandwich delivery."
Giving feels good, Tacelosky says, and he views being able to choose where you donate your money as part of being a free person. "What an honor to be able to say I helped someone do what they were called to do. It's a privilege."
-- Andrea Caumont