Building a better community, through the community

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About the Founder

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The Big Bear Hug greatly appreciates any contributions that are made. Through your donations our organization is able to not only help the community, but also thrive and grow. The vision of The Big Bear Hug is not only to provide food and clothing for the homeless, but to inform individuals about mental health, and help the youth too. Each donation aids our organization in establishing our future and achieving our goals. Each and every dollar donated goes toward bettering the organization; so, helping The Big Bear Hug, helps those less fortunate. Again our organization expresses our sincerest thanks to all those who help support us. Thank You!

The Beginning Development of The Big Bear Hug Non – Profit Organization

I started out with the simple concept to try teach my kids to appreciate what they had.  

I wanted them to be able to recognize that they were blessed and that there were many other people that were less fortunate. I figured that I could take them to soup kitchens and have them volunteer and let them see for themselves just how fortunate they were. I planned to buy scarves, hat, and gloves and take them around the city of Philadelphia and distribute them to the homeless. But then I asked myself why stop there? I thought to myself that I could do so much more and get more than just my kids involved. I started to think of different religious and community based groups I could reach out to in order to increase the amount of clothes I would be able to distribute. 
At first I was thinking to simply collect clothing and distribute them, but as I started to talk to more people and brainstorm, people suggested taking my vision to the next level and become a non – profit. I started to realize that by having the status of a 501(c)(3), it may give me more creditability and maybe even access to individuals that may not have heard me out as an independent entity. I also believe that by establishing myself as a non – profit, individuals may be more willing to provide cash donations that may help me build the charity. I also felt that by becoming an official non – profit that it may also give me access to government funding and/or grants. 

About the Founder and President Tariq McGilberry

I grew up in a small suburb right on the edge of Philadelphia. 

Throughout Philadelphia you can see a large community of homeless and less fortunate, as well as low income families. Growing up surrounded by these situations and I have always been interested in helping those in need. I can remember, as a child, asking my parents to get extra food when we would go out to fast food restaurants for the homeless that were sitting outside. As I got older I continued to try to help the homeless; giving anything I could spare to people I passed on the street. I have volunteered at various soup kitchens around the Philadelphia area and linked local community restaurants with charities. Now, I feel it’s time that I can take things a step further.
 Along with an interest in helping the homeless, I graduate from Ashford University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. I have always been interested in what drives and motivates other, as well as self - assessment. Not only have I studied Psychology, I myself have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Working in the mental health field I have been able to work with others with mental health diagnoses. When I started my studied my goal was to be a psychotherapist, you know, one of those therapist you see on television helping people with simple everyday problems. As I got more exposure to individuals dealing with severe, chronic mental illnesses, I realized there was a whole aspect of mental health that I could open myself up to and get involved in. A large amount of the homeless population deal with a mental illness diagnosis. A number of people suffering from mental illnesses may not be psychologically stable and as a consequence may need up homeless without any support. So, the vision of The Big Bear Hug to aid the homeless and educate the youth on mental illness, I believe is the perfect marriage for this charity. 

Hopefully by providing information about symptoms and behaviors, I can help people understand what to identify with. I feel giving individuals the knowledge to identify not only their own symptoms, if they are dealing with them, but the ability to help someone they are close identify symptoms too, will bring a better understanding to illnesses that plague so many. There are many false beliefs about mental illnesses; I believe providing the youth with information about these illnesses will break existing stigmas. I know, I myself suffered with my own mental illness for nearly a decade before being diagnosed. After being diagnosed, it brought a better understanding of why I thought and acted in the ways I did. Mental illnesses are not always clear cut and as obvious as many people believe they are. Many individuals can be dealing with a mental illness and never know it because they have no idea of what symptoms to look for. I believe that many people think that there is a certain face to mental illness. Like there is a mental illness tag or marker, like you can identify someone with a mental illness just by looking at them. We all see cases that are obvious, but without educating people on the not so obvious, many people like myself may suffer in silence. Giving people the tools and knowledge to deal with mental health illnesses may prevent an individual from being left to fend for themselves during a crisis. Many individuals receive their diagnoses while they are in crisis. I think this is because the lack of education dedicated to mental health. If people knew what types of symptoms are associated with the different illnesses, they would be better equipped to handle the situation before it becomes a crisis. I believe this type of education could possibly reduce future homeless cases. Preparing the youth to understand mental illness may allow an individual to be capable of better dealing with these types of diagnosis. Being in a situation with no knowledge or understanding of what is going on is the worst situation to be in. Schools teach physical health; I think that there should be an increasing interest in understanding mental health too. Especially, to coincide with the growing amount of mental health cases mounting.