by Jennifer Tolle Whiteside
I was jolted awake at 3:15 a.m. this morning by my dog barking at the ceiling when the mouse trap we set up had sprung upstairs. (And please do not write me about my cruelty to mice.)
It was then that I started thinking about the whole circle of life thing. I could hear the trap moving around a bit, and lay quietly in bed, trying to figure out whether it was a squirrel or a mouse. Because truth be told, we have had both flying squirrels and a pregnant raccoon in our attic previously, although not at the same time.
Nope, this sounded smaller, but what exactly was happening? It sounded a bit like it was walking around upstairs dragging the trap. As I started to feel sad for the poor thing, I realized my whole life is about the circle of life. It all starts with the circular food chain in my very own home. We have mice, so of course we have snakes -- proven recently when our sweet dog was bitten by a copperhead while minding his own business in our back yard. And we have raccoons, a fox, hawks and someone just saw a coyote. What is next?
And by the way, if you find a mouse in your house I do not recommend that you Google “is it possible to have one mouse in your house?” Because the answer is most definitely “no.” And the statistics regarding mouse reproduction are quite frightening. Did you know that mice can mature at age two months and can have eight litters per year, for gosh sake??? I mean we probably added 10 more babies while I wrote this blog.
This whole circle of life thing is exactly what is happening at a community foundation too. Let me explain. No, it’s not parallel to a rodent problem, but rather an illustration of the circle of life. (Cue Lion King music; I know, I can’t get it out of mind either!)
People start charitable funds for many reasons: sometimes to celebrate, to remember, to memorialize, to honor and to teach. Many times it is out of our deep need to make a difference -- to do something with what we have now that can have lasting meaning forever. To have impact. Sometimes it is to teach our own children about the value of giving -- or what is important to us. Giving is sometimes a real window into a person; a person’s giving can tell you plenty about someone.
We can also clearly see the circle of life reflected in many of our funds: those started years ago by someone who may not be around anymore, but whose fund is now being advised by children or grandchildren. And those children get to see what was important to their parent(s) and add to that their own values – teaching their own children.
The cycle is often evident in the stories of our scholarship recipients. Many who were provided a helping hand are now establishing scholarships and passing that forward for another generation.
The circle of life.