by Dawn Neighbors
In my many years serving in volunteer capacities and helping to organize events for churches, employers and nonprofits, I have come across so many talented, caring, wonderful people who have somehow gotten the misguided notion that they are none of those things. I have often wondered what exactly causes these people to believe that their efforts or contributions are insignificant and don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
Last week I was fortunate to be able to attend the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmaking Network Conference on behalf of one of our wonderful women’s philanthropy groups: Moore Women – A Giving Circle. Listening to excited and engaged women, passionate about sharing their philanthropic efforts and ideas was inspiring and certainly motivating! These women came together in their respective communities because they wanted to make a difference and realized there is both strength and impact in numbers. As the conference progressed, however, it also became very clear that there was great power in the individuals who made up these wonderful giving circles.
The last morning of the conference, we were honored to hear from Trisha Meili; a woman many will remember as “The Central Park Jogger” in 1989. She spoke very little about the evening she was brutally attacked and left for dead, instead choosing to focus on the people who helped her heal along her very long journey to recovery from the traumatic brain injury she sustained. Some of these individuals like the male nurse who held her hand as she was wheeled into the ER and told her she was safe and she was going to survive or the nurse who held her in her arms and read the myriad cards, poems and letters sent to her in the ICU unit of the hospital, she doesn’t even remember. She doesn’t have any recollection whatsoever of their kindnesses, presence or words. Until she met them months or years later, she didn’t know their faces, but she believes on a deeper level that in her greatest moments of need, she heard and felt them. What they were doing may have been their job, or seemed insignificant, or was no big deal to them, but she believed that those amazing people doing ordinary things saved her.
So, whether you are setting up an endowment or the chairs for an event, holding the hand of someone in need or an informative event in your home, delivering backpacks of food or speeches to civic clubs, making cookies for a reception or strategic decisions on affiliate boards, you are making a difference.
Without you and what you bring to the world, there is a gap. You are the only one who can fill that void with those amazing talents, words and gifts that only you posses in that unique, you way.
And if you are out there doing your thing, inspiring us to do our thing, think of all the amazing things we are collectively doing! It can’t happen without you.
You’re kind of a big deal, and totally amazing. And we thank you.