Get to Know Member Joel Justiss


Joel JustissMember Spotlight: Joel Justiss, San Antonio, Texas  

A little bit about yourself and your family: During family dinners when I was a child, my father often told about the families he attempted to assist in his job as a county child welfare worker. His accounts of neglected children and parents who struggled with difficult circumstances were often heart-rending. I knew that when I grew up I wanted to have a career as important as his in helping other people.  

It didn’t work out that way. Now, as a business software developer too rapidly approaching retirement age, I take satisfaction in being able to give some financial support to other people who are doing the kind of work I’ve always considered to be the most significant.  

How did you first hear about the Foundation? As a survivor of a fundamentalist Christian upbringing, I’m thrilled to read about Dale McGowan’s experiences with secular parenting in his “The Meming of Life” blog. When he began writing there about creating the Foundation, I was intrigued.  

Why are you a member? Most of my contributions are to large, well-established, international charities. In the past I’ve given small amounts to small charities, but found that they spent most of my donation on mailing me pleas for more contributions. The Foundation solves that problem neatly by enabling me to support many good efforts without getting on any mailing lists. The research and screening that goes into selecting the beneficiaries gives me confidence that the charities I’m supporting are legitimate and worthwhile.

The Foundation’s innovative approach of introducing new beneficiaries and allowing flexible allocations to them encourages me to be involved in my contributions on an ongoing basis. I’m embarrassed by how much I’ve  contributed to religious organizations and missionaries in the past, so to me the icing on the Foundation cake is the sense that I’m doing something important as part of an explicitly secular community.

Do you have some favorite cause categories? I believe that almost everyone prefers to be self-sufficient rather than being dependent on other people. Independence gives freedom and self-respect, making it a key to alleviating most social problems. Because of this, I tend to favor the area of Poverty & Health, followed closely by Education.

Any beneficiaries so far that particularly moved or interested you? The Uganda Humanist Schools Trust particularly caught my attention because of its uniqueness as a grassroots humanist effort to give children a practical education that also challenges them to think. Projects like that give me hope that the future will be better.