By Kate Atwood

Dads hold a special place in my heart. After my mom died when I was 12, my dad became my life teacher. The biggest lesson he taught me was to discover the joy in giving back and helping others. I’ve been doing just that ever since. This Father’s Day, I celebrate all dads who are giving back and teaching this same lesson to their children.

An Atlanta dad worth celebrating is Tom Lynch. Tom is co-founder of a non-profit organization that he started with his daughter, Miranda, and CEO of a for-profit venture, Worthwhile Wine Co., that imports sustainably-made wines from some of the most vulnerable terrain in the world.

He took some time out of his busy life, between his daughter’s high school graduation and his travels abroad, to share about how and why he gives back.

What was the inspiration to start your non-profit Isipho?

Four years ago, my daughter Miranda and I went on a father/daughter vacation to South Africa.  In between spending five days on safari and five days around Cape Town, the two of us spent five days living and volunteering in a remote Zulu village. The immersive experience had the impact I had hoped and led to much more. That trip planted the seed in Miranda’s mind that she could and should take time out of her life to help improve the lives of others. That trip was the inspiration for us to start Isipho (Zulu for “gift). Today, Isipho is an organization that empowers the people of Inzinga, South Africa, to break the cycle of poverty and dependence one food garden at a time.

How did that lead to you starting a socially-responsibly business?

Out of the experience of working alongside my daughter to make a difference, I was inspired to do the same in my money-earning role for our family. I quit my VP position at a major agency and started Worthwhile Wine, which imports sustainably-made wine from South Africa, Argentina and Chile. These are countries where taking care of the environment can go hand in hand with helping to uplift the impoverished workers. Worthwhile Wine is a purely for-profit business, but it is a model of sustainable capitalism, looking at the triple bottom line of profits, people and planet.

Why is it important to you, as a dad, to give back?

As a person, it just feels good to do the best possible thing you can. Life simply feels better, even on bad days. As a parent, there is very little we can do that is more important than living our values. Kids are really smart and I don’t think we’re always aware of when we’re sending mixed messages. As parents, it is more often about our actions than just our words. Giving back sends a direct message to your kids about what is important in life.

What is your Living by Giving dream?

There is a great movement going on that blends the capitalistic innovations in non-profit organizations, with sustainable, earth/people-friendly forms of running for-profit businesses. Worthwhile Wine is purely capitalistic, but it is a slightly more evolved form of capitalism that is more sustainable and looks at stakeholders (employees, community, planet), not just shareholders. I hope these trends accelerate and I hope to continue to be a part of this movement as it spreads.

Here are Tom’s three tips to take action and get involved:

Listen to your heart: Everyone has something inside that they care deeply about. Everyone has seen a situation they wish were different. Figure out where your passion is, even if it is a small thing.

Do your research: The Internet is a great way to find local or far-flung organizations working on the thing you’re passionate about. You can search online your cause interest with the city in which you live or look up an organization that you have heard about through friends or co-workers. Websites today are able to provide ways to help.

Act with others: It’s amazing the impact you can have with just a little time or money. It all counts and it all makes a difference. Whatever you choose to do, please do it with your kids, friends or family. It’s a great way to spend time together.

For more information on Isipho, visit isipho.org. For Worthwhile Wine Co., visit worthwhilewine.com.

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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.