Last summer Zealous Good team member, Laura, started a donor interview series on the blog. When Laura left, the interview series went with her. Now we’re reviving and revamping Laura’s concept so you can get to know the people behind the donations. Today we’re talking to Andra Popa, a super donor who has donated to several charities including Neumann Family Services, Found Chicago, Chicago House, and Bridge to Success.
1. Tell me about yourself/your job.
I work on neurotumor research, draw, design and write and am a Child Life volunteer at the Lurie Children’s Hospital and RIC. I also help hospitals with their human research accreditation and compliance.
2. How did you hear about Zealous Good?
I met ZG CEO/founder Brittany Martin Graunke at an entrepreneurship conference at Northwestern Law, where ZG was featured at the reception afterwards. I loved ZG immediately as it solved a problem I had encountered a few months before.
3. Why did you decide to use Zealous Good to donate your items? What did you donate?
I had recently been given loads of items, much of which I wanted to donate. Even with the Internet, I was not able to find charities with which to place the goods. Particularly since I had so many things to give that covered a wide range of categories, it was a very inefficient and time-consuming process. I ended up donating a great number of things all at once to a single charity, but that proved somewhat problematic and unsatisfying. ZG really solved the problems I had with donating in kind goods and made it an incredibly positive experience!
-My first donation, a small space heater, went to charity that gave it to a homeless teen living in transitional quarters that happened to be without heat that winter!
-A dishwasher went to Neumann Family Services, which will replace a broken stove at a community home. Another dishwasher went to Urban Art Retreat Center.
-A refrigerator went to Rebuilding Exchange for their store for reclaimed building materials.
-A washer/ dryer went to Found Chicago, a no-kill animal shelter that will use the appliance to wash and dry blankets and towels used to wash the dogs! They invited me to go for a tour and let me know about updates!
-On a rainy day, a brand new Zara trench coat went to someone who needed to go on a job interview through the Jane Addams Resource Corporation.
-Some cute CB2 furniture went to Benton House for their library.
-About 20 pairs of my mom’s almost brand new and gorgeous Manolo Blahnik and Ferragamo high-heeled shoes went to St. Vincent de Paul Center. A lot of great clothes that are too big for me went to the same charity.
-Some very professional looking Sur La Table Cooking and baking tools went to Chicago House, for their kitchen. I dropped off the items with Brittany; the team there was fantastic!
-My mother brought me a suitcase of her beautiful designer clothing all the way from Florida, which was all donated to Bridge to Success, which still sends me updates. I believe they used some of the pieces for their charity auction event.
It has been really amazing getting to know all these charities!!
4. What is your favorite part about Zealous Good?
There have been so many positive benefits. The first is the incredible feeling of interacting with someone from each charity, learning about their work, and learning why they would need my items. It really makes the community come alive, as though we lived in a small town.
Second, it is eye opening to realize that I had so many items sitting around that could have been helping another person. The process has helped me be much more mindful of every little purchase and to be more creative with what I do have.
Finally, I also save time now and have a really calm and peaceful environment at home because the condo is ridiculously organized. Win Win Win!
5. What’s your favorite spot to find peace and quiet in Chicago?
I grab my camera and walk along the lake. The Shedd Aquarium gardens use cocoa shells from Bloomer’s Chocolates, so the air there is chocolate scented!
I make sure to stop by the Tadao Ando Gallery and Sculpture Court within the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as the two enclosed courtyards on either side of the main museum entrance on Michigan Ave. and walk through Millennium Park.
From there, I walk to and through the Lincoln Park Zoo, where I always stop by the wolves to see if I can spot them. I’ve only seen them once, and it was raining that day! I also like the Conservatory.
I end the day walking back through the Gold Coast to see the gardens, and from time to time I take a ride on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, which is quiet and secluded once you are up in the air.
6. Who is your do gooder role model?
My mother, father, grandparents, and great grandparents, are my role models through their quiet examples. I am incredibly inspired by three doctors I know: an orthopaedic oncologist, a radiation oncologist, and a neuro-oncologist.
I really admire social entrepreneurs Blake Mycoskie, Lauren Bush Lauren, and Brittany Martin Graunke. Brittany has been very supportive and generous in answering questions I had about starting a social enterprise.
Brittany and I saw Edward Norton speak at Chicago Ideas Week about his amazing philanthropy efforts, and I learned a lot from his talk and was very motivated afterwards!
7. Deep dish or thin crust?
I really like homemade pizza on a baguette, like my dad used to make. He used to make homemade cheese and bake his own baguette bread and top it with homegrown tomatoes and basil. So good!