Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 21, 2003
Ask and you shall receive . . .
By SUZANNE ELSTON
I recently had one of those rare moments that uplifts the spirit and restores one's faith in humanity.
I work for a small, not-for-profit agency that struggles to preserve human rights and protect the health of the world's most vulnerable citizens. While my job is inspiring and worthwhile, like so many people who work in the non-governmental sector, I live in the valley of the shadow of insufficient funding. In order to keep doing what I love, I spend a fair part of my day trying to raise money.
Earlier this week I pleaded my case to the representative of a labour association. I went into the meeting with our literature and talked about the value of what we do. I thanked the gentleman for his time, and at his suggestion, promised to call him next week to see if the other members of the organization might consider providing us with financial support.
Needless to say I was a little surprised when I received a phone call from the association secretary the very next day. She asked, "So what do you want me to do with this?"
Unsure of what she was talking about, I asked her what she meant.
"The cheque," she said, "Do you want to pick it up, or should I put it in the mail?"
"We got the funding?" I asked. "Do you mind me asking for how much?"
"How much did you ask for?" she replied.
"$5,000," I said rather timidly.
"Well, that's what I was told to make the cheque payable for, so I guess you got what you wanted!"
I thanked the woman and told her how much my agency appreciated the speed with which they had approved our request. As much as I was thrilled with the news, it was what she said next that sent my heart soaring.
"When you're uplifting humanity," she said, "it's a no-brainer."
There isn't a single not-for-profit, non-governmental agency that I know of that doesn't deserve this kind of support. So much of the quality of life that we take for granted we owe to these agencies that work tirelessly to uplift humanity despite the lack of funding, resources or other support. Trees get planted, starving children are fed, waterways are cleaned up, endangered species are protected and the environment is preserved.
A century ago, most people were members of a church congregation. Part of that membership involved something called tithing -- giving 10 percent of what you earned to support the work of the Church. Time and society have changed. Church attendance has dropped dramatically, and those who do attend rarely commit to the 10 per cent solution. Much of the traditional work of the church has been taken over by government agencies and the not-for-profit sector -- many of which are seriously under funded.
At the risk of sounding self-serving, it's high time we recognized that the job of uplifting humanity is everyone's responsibility. We need to be focused less on what we want, and more on what others need. In the process we'll make this world a much better place.
If you're not sure where to start, here are some suggestions:
Forego that dinner-for-two at your favourite restaurant and donate the $100 or more you'll save to a homeless shelter, food bank or soup kitchen. Better yet, give of your money and of yourself. Hand-deliver your donation and offer to help pack food boxes or serve dinner while you're there.
Park the car and take public transit one day a week. Send the money you'll save on gas and parking to one of the many environmental groups working to reduce smog and improve air quality.
Instead of using the gas-guzzling money van for grocery shopping, put a basket on your bicycle and pedal to the grocery store. Use the gas money saved to support local parks and recreation programs.
Pack up garbageless lunches and save a minimum of $5 a day. At the end of the week, send your savings to a group working on waste reduction.
Forget about renting a video and spend the evening talking to a lonely senior. Chances are you'll find it a lot more interesting. Donate the money that you saved to your local community care initiative.
Recommended website:www.charityvillage.ca is an online service centre dedicated to encouraging, supporting and servicing Canada's 200,000 charities and nonprofit organizations, and the millions of staffers, volunteers, donors and supporters who make them an important part of our national fabric.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.