At only 17, Charlie Miner, may not be able to vote, but that doesn’t stop him from making a big difference. Charlie is devoted to making a meaningful impact on the lives of young boys housed at The Children’s Village, a charity founded in 1851 that currently serves 10,000 vulnerable children and families in the New York metropolitan area each year. Driven by his love of sport, competitive edge and passion for philanthropy, Charlie has committed himself to being a consistent source of support, education, fun and happiness for children in need.
What does the word visionary mean to you?
A visionary is someone that dreams about making change, not only in his or her own lives, but also for others. It’s someone that wants to accomplish something that will have a lasting impact and doesn’t care about the credit, only about making a difference.
How did you get involved with The Children’s Village (CV)?
About six years ago, my parents brought me to a gated campus only about 15 minutes from my house. I had never seen it before and didn’t even know it existed. But after going there once, I knew it would become a very important part of my life.
What have you been able to contribute to CV?
After volunteering there for six years, I have come to realize what I mean to these boys. I am unpaid, I am not required to be there, but I am something consistent in these boys’ lives, which is not something they’re used to. I am someone they can talk to and that they know truly cares about them.
What is it about CV that drives you to want to continue giving back?
It is the feeling inside that I am truly making a difference in these boys’ lives. When I’m there, even if it’s only for an hour, I can see the happiness in their eyes.
What 3 adjectives best describe you?
Thoughtful, active, interested.
Who has most inspired you?
My dad. My whole life, he has been involved in philanthropy work, and it’s because of him that I was introduced to CV.
What activities do you find most rewarding?
As it relates to CV, the most rewarding thing is when I am successfully able to teach one of the kids a new skill. Whether it’s making a shot in basketball or throwing a spiral in football. Outside of CV, I love playing basketball. Playing a good game and seeing my hard work pay off is very rewarding.
When I was younger, I used to get very emotional during my sports events. One night my dad brought me home a small poster that read: “Keep calm and carry on”. He explained to me that Winston Churchill had said that during World War II. So for the last few years, whenever I got mad, I would think about that saying and force myself to keep calm, knowing that getting upset would only make me play worse.
If you had $10,000 to give away, what would you do with it?
I would build the kids at Rose Cottage (The cottage I volunteer at CV) a new outdoor basketball court. I would have outdoor wood put down and I would put up 2 hoops. Basketball is the favorite sports of many of the kids and I would love to see them playing on a brand new court.
What most drives you?
Competition-either in school or in sports. Being an athlete, competition is what pushes me to my limits and forces me to work as hard as I can.
In your opinion, how can the youth of America come together to make a difference? What advice would you give them?
My advice would be to focus on consistently becoming educated. Only after we understand the history of our economical and social issues, then can we attack our problems with well thought out solutions. We need to trade in rash solutions for educated ones.
Remember The Titans
Based on your experiences, if there was a training program that could better prepare you for the future, what would they teach you?
There is no class that can teach kids the lessons I have learned during my time at CV. The only way for kids to understand the struggles people in this country face everyday is to go out and explore. Get involved in charity work and immerse yourself into different cultures. Putting yourself out there is the only true way to learn about the authentic aspects of life.
Paint us a picture of your life in 10-20 years
I will be working in the financial world and continuing to pursue philanthropy work on the weekends. I will continue to volunteer at local charities and if I am lucky enough to be in a position to help out financially, I will do that, as well.
What type of support system is needed to reach your level of success at such a young age?
It is important to have people who you can look up to and who motivate you to do the right thing. Without my parents, I never would have been exposed to CV. But when they presented me with the opportunity to help, I jumped.
What is 1 piece of advice or encouragement you would give to future visionaries?
Don’t back away from a challenge. Just because you see a problem that will be very difficult to resolve, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue it. Even if you solve part of the problem, it will have been a success.