By Bernadette Constance

How many of us feel passionate about a cause but are unsure how to put our desire into action? Dusty Wenk founded Real Rolemodels to empower people to answer that question for themselves.

The Real Rolemodels is a database for organizations and their founders, organization members, and anyone who wants to see global change, peace and solidarity. The database seeks to connect individuals to groups and promote action among the two, with causes ranging from civil rights to environmental protection, to peace and poverty, and everything in between.

Having moved to Atlanta from Germany a year ago, Wenk takes time out of a busy schedule to advocate for social change. Inspired by people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa, Wenk wondered “why it took so long for people to follow these leaders and why we keep forgetting what they have taught us?”

Wenk realized that it’s not about waiting for the next big leader to come along. If she wanted the world to change, she would have to start doing her part.

Using the power of social media, Real Rolemodels began with a Facebook page in February. A series called “Real Rolemodels of the Day” is featuring on the page, which profiles nonprofit organizations ranging from the national, like the Human Rights Campaign, to local organizations like Petz Parties, which unites different animal charities around the city.

There are also inspirational quotes from icons like Bono and Mark Twain and messages from people facilitating in their own communities. With such optimism and a lack of a political agenda, it is easy to see why the group amassed 1,200 friends in just a few months.

This month, Wenk plans to launch the Real Rolemodels website at therealrolemodels.com, which will include a database for organizations, their founders, organization members, and anyone who wants to see change.

Also in the works is “The Day we Change the World,” a worldwide media event hosted by well-known personalities, on Dec.21. Look for announcements on the Facebook page and on the Real Rolemodels website to see who gets involved. The intention is for nonprofit groups around the world to hold individual events all on the same day. If each organization promotes messages of peace instead of division, the event will be a great show of local and international unity, according to Wenk.

“There is only so much individual organizations can do,” Wenk says. “We need to stand up together to be seen, to make an even bigger change.”

She feels it is especially important for the youth to hear the message that “it’s cool to be spiritual person, to stand up for your rights, and that it can be so much fun to do the right thing in this world.”

If you would like to find out more, get involved, buy a Real Rolemodels t-shirt, or just see a Facebook page inspiring you to act on the causes you feel passionate about, visit facebook.com/realrolemodels.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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