by Jennifer Tolle Whiteside
Generosity, charity, philanthropy -- all come in many forms. Here at the Foundation we are grateful for individuals, families and organizations that chose to start endowments with us as a means of fulfilling their philanthropic objectives. I for one am also amazed at how those same individuals, families and organizations spend their time and energy seeing that funds from their endowments go to deserving organizations or to an aspiring student in the form of a scholarship.
Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. It seems the warmer weather and the new life it brings adds a “pep” to everyone’s step. It also seems that (and it might just be me), springtime evokes another form of generosity. People seem to be much more generous with how they interact with each other. It feels like I hear more folks saying “hello,” “good morning,” “how are you” or “have a great day!”
I’m reminded of a story I often tell about my first day at work here in North Carolina after moving from New York (many, many years ago). For me it encapsulates the positive impact that a kind or engaging word can have on an individual.
On that first day of work I walked into the building that housed my new employer. It was a multi-tenant building with my employer being one of many tenants. I entered the elevator. There were several folks also getting on for the ride up to their respective offices. As I stood there staring at the door waiting to reach my floor I heard people talking. It sounded like they were asking someone questions. I wasn’t accustomed to hearing a lot of chatter on an elevator so I assumed it was just small talk among colleagues. I maintained the stoic “elevator pose” and continued to watch the elevator floor lights click by. It wasn’t until someone tapped me on the shoulder that I realized the questions were directed towards me. They were asking if I was new to the area and if so, where was I from? Did I have a family? What company I was starting with that day?
I was somewhat stunned (and a little uncomfortable) but I tried to answer all their questions in the time we had left. As I exited the elevator I heard “welcome to North Carolina,” “hope you have a great day” “see you around” and “let me know if you need help finding anything.” That day I felt the generosity of others. It wasn’t in terms of dollars but it was in kindness. It’s one of those life experiences that I’m grateful for and will never forget.