Causes, Passions, and Foundations.
We all have charities, causes, benefits that we like to support. It makes us feel good. Whether it be a center for the arts, a public school foundation, a food bank, or drug prevention – most people support some cause to some degree. I think this is great. Some people put in a few hours a year to work at a fundraiser one day, while others work several hours weekly for their causes. Some people can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars just by making phone calls to their friends and business acquaintances, while others raise money ten dollars at a time for their charity. No matter what you do, no matter how much you raise, it is important to be involved with something that is meaningful to you – for it is your emotional attachment to that cause this is your motivation. It is not your friends or colleges asking you, not your moral obligation to do something – it is how that charity and cause has affected you that drives you do be involved on some level. It is almost a visceral reaction that causes your attachment to this cause.
Like many others, I have been involved with a few charities over the years. Attended meetings, helped at golf outings, raised some money, spread the word about a specific cause, etc. But was I passionate about? Not really. I guess that is why I was involved with them for a few years, and then moved on. Like most of us do. Our kids outgrow soccer, so we stop being on the board. Our kids graduate high school so we move off the educational foundation. We get a new job so we change our charities to be in line with our new company. But we move on because there was no emotional attachment to the cause.
Unfortunately, it is the traumatic and horrible experiences of our lives that forces us to change and re-evaluate this.
A friend of mine was the victim of a road side bomb in Iraq and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He has thankfully fully recovered and now runs a foundation for injured warriors – a foundation that has raised and has invested over $20 million (yes million) to benefit our warriors returning home. This is an amazing feat. I am sure he was involved with many other charities before the accident – but now he and his family are passionate about this cause. They were personally touched by it.
Another friend of ours, Stephanie, lost her son to a drug overdose. The family spent tens of thousands of dollars sending him to rehab facilities, sending him to the best doctors and trying everything to help their little boy. Unfortunately none of these facilities were prepared to deal with a teen with co-occurring disorders. This is where the a person has a psychological disorder (ADD, ADHD, Addictive personality, etc), as well as a drug dependency. Hence co-occurring issues. There is no real government position on this, the doctors are ill-equipt to properly help these children, and the medical/rehab facilities are at a total loss. Stephanie now spends countless hours every day and every week educating others, giving talks, raising money, and she even finds time to talk to other parents who children are going through this to give them advice and support. She is an amazing person who has found a cause that will help so many others families deal with this disease. She knows, and we all know, that what she is doing may prevent other families from facing the tragedy that she and her family has to deal with for the rest of their lives.
Tragically, Debbie’s son was struck and killed by a NYC transit bus while he was standing on the curb waiting to cross the street. He was just standing and waiting when his life was cut short by a bus driver – one who should not have even been on the road. Since that horrific day, Debbie has been relentlessly working for NYC Safer Streets and was a major force in reducing the New York City speed limit to safer 25 MPH. Her volunteer work with Safer Streets will save many mothers, fathers and families from receiving that terrible phone call that she and her husband received a few years ago. I am sure her work is not done yet. Although the speed limit has been reduced, there is so much more to do, and so much more that I am sure Debbie will do, to prevent the senseless deaths caused by motorists each and every day.
For Dorothy, Nicole and I, we are not trying to save someone’s life, or help our returning warriors, or make people drive safer. There are so many other people who have undertaken these worthy causes. We have a different passion, that’s all. A passion that Andrew started many years ago. We are trying to help underprivileged children. We are trying to positively change their lives and help them be part of the team – whatever team that is for them. We are trying to make sure that kids who want to play sports are given that opportunity. For those kids who want to play a sport but can not afford the equipment or the special clothes or the cost of a mouth guard, we want to make sure they can still participate. We don’t want to see children not play soccer because they cannot afford sneakers, or not play hockey because their stick is broken, or lack a baseball glove or lacrosse stick.
So many grieving parents that I see have taken up a cause. Many other people who have been profoundly effected by some tragedy have taken up a cause. And these causes are all worthy.
But why does it take this grief to make someone want to help others so much? Of course there are people who work just as hard at their cause who have not lost someone, or who have not been profoundly effected. They do it because they love it and they want to do it.
Nicole’s first high schools motto is “Not for Self, but for Service.” Nothing about learning, or making money, or getting ahead in life – but service to others. I think that is great.
The point of this entry? Get involved. Find something that you want to do. Don’t sit back and let the opportunity to help others pass you by. Talk to your friends and ask them what they do. Find something that makes you tear up or you can make a connection to. Help at a food bank (on a day other than Thanksgiving), walk dogs at a local shelter, help socialize stray cats at a cat rescue, collect coats for the homeless, help set up computers or build homes for returning vets. But do something. Get out of your chair and step up to life. Don’t rely on others to do it.
If someone was not passionate about breast cancer and started to raise money for research, do you thing the survival rate from breast cancer would be in the nineties? If someone was not so passionate about not throwing away food every night, would City Harvest save some 136,000 pounds of food each and every day? And there are dozens of other examples of people getting involved to help others.
Don’t sit on the sidelines and let the opportunity to get that feeling of helping others pass you by. Sit up, take responsibility, get involved – it will change your life.