Micah Raskin Discusses How His Philanthropic Efforts Have Changed His Life for the Better

Poker's Micah Raskin

March 2, 2021

Micah Raskin Poker

Micah Raskin is a long-time supporter of his local community, as well as pursuing philanthropic efforts abroad. “It’s just always made sense to me,” says Raskin. “If you want a better, stronger community, you have to pour into it – you have to give back to see real change, real improvement.”

 

From smaller acts of service (volunteering with local soup kitchens and hosting concerts to raise money for local hospitals) to much larger ones (funding the building of temples and creating after school programs in Queens), Micah Raskin has become a bit of an expert in the benefits of giving.

Altruism Helps Fight Depression Says Micah Raskin

Scientifically, giving has been proven to fight the symptoms of depression by releasing endorphins (pain-killing, stress-reducing, feel-good hormones), serotonin (mood-boosting chemical), and oxytocin (the “bonding” and compassion chemical). All of these chemicals are released into our brain when we do something good for someone else, creating that “warm glow” in the pit of your stomach.

 

Micah Raskin says he got addicted to that feeling early on in his life. “My family was always involved in the community, you know? We helped each other out. That taught me how to treat other people, and that helping someone else was helping yourself.”

 

While he focused on building his career as a professional poker player and pursued his many creative interests – cooking, singing in a rock band, playing ping pong, landscape architecture – Micah still found time to pursue his true passion – philanthropy. The financial success he won as a pro poker player allowed him to fund an after school program for at-risk youths in Queens, NY, fund a weekend swimming program for children with disabilities, and build three temples for the elderly so they had a place to worship and gather with friends and family.

 

Giving stimulates the regions of our brains that induce connection, pleasure, and trust. That’s why you feel so close to people when you’re being philanthropic. It’s also why people get excited about volunteering or donating – and why you feel so good about yourself and the world at large after volunteering.

 

One study found that the MRIs (brain scans) of people who regularly give to charities have a stimulated mesolimbic pathway. The mesolimbic pathway is the “reward” center in your brain – it’s what makes you feel good. And this was true no matter how much the subjects gave.

 

“It’s not about having millions of dollars to give away,” says Micah Raskin. “It’s about doing what you can.” Even giving a few dollars or donating a few hours of your time each month can give you that rush of feel-good chemicals that fight depression and increase your overall sense of wellbeing. So be a do-gooder and do some good! Your brain – and the people you help – will thank you.

Giving Promotes a Stronger Sense of Community Says Micah Raskin

No matter how far away from home he is, Micah Raskin says it’s his philanthropic work that ties him to his community most strongly. When you pour so much of yourself into your community, you become invested in it, he explains. You learn other people’s stories and connect yourself to the bigger picture instead of just living your own, small life.

 

“Paying it forward” is a cliche sentiment, but it’s also one based on the truth and science of what giving does for us as humans. When you give, says science, you’re more likely to get something in return. Several sociological studies have found that when you’re generous with your time or money you’re much more likely to be rewarded with generosity in the future – whether it’s by the person you helped or by someone else.

 

It’s a phenomenon that Micah Raskin has experienced many times. “It sounds hokey, but when you’re good to people, that comes back to you. As humans, we’re all connected, we’re all in this together. And when you help the people around you, strengthen your community, that benefits everyone – including yourself.”

 

Raskin reflects on his philanthropic efforts often in times when he feels alone. He says that thinking about the people he’s helped reminds him that he has friends everywhere. Science tells us that being kind and generous doesn’t just make people feel closer to you – it makes you feel closer to them. Philanthropic efforts make people view everyone they encounter more positively.

 

That’s why an “attitude of gratitude” is so often lifted up as a remedy for depression, loneliness, and heartache. When you cultivate gratitude and giving in your everyday life, it literally changes the way your brain sees the world around you.

 

Micah Raskin encourages those who don’t like their surroundings or who feel disconnected or unsatisfied with their community to invest a little of themselves before giving up. If you don’t like your neighborhood, don’t move – work to change it for the better.

Giving is Contagious Says Micah Raskin

The best part about giving to the community is watching how that spurs further generosity and charity, says Micah Raskin. His afterschool program for inner-city kids has brought many new community leaders and volunteers into the community. His sponsored concerts in Nassau County raised money for many local organizations in need. The temples he helped fund and build have, in turn, lifted up the community, offering programs for families, children, and seniors, and raised money for multiple charities.

 

It’s a ripple effect that can have a huge impact, says Raskin. You don’t always know who you’re helping, but you can watch the community thrive when you put good back into it. People are always watching. Your kindness and generosity will spur someone to do the same for others – and so on, and so on. That means that one individual can positively affect the lives of thousands of people without ever knowing who they are. You have to be the change you want to see in the world.

 

“I know that the churches and hospitals I’ve helped build and support, the programs I’ve helped put into place for local youth, and the efforts I’ve made to relieve hunger in our local community, have a bigger impact than I’ll ever be able to see,” says Micah Raskin. “And that’s the point of it all. I hope that everyone who has benefited from my efforts does the same for those around them. That’s how we build a better future.”