My Friends – as this year draws to a close, let me again say thank you for working on this project with me. It has been challenging and fun and humbling and I think we’ve been able to brighten some days and help some folks out by easing their load a little.
You’ll recall that for December I wanted to use the money to help bring families or friends together for the holidays. Your suggestions and requests were all touching and it was again so hard to make a decision. In the end, I tried to stretch the money as far as I could to help as many folks as possible. I’m also going to be able to help out in another way – more on that below.
Recipient 1 – This person (a friend on FB) wrote to me and spent most of the message talking about her faith and her heart for helping others. She’s non-stop – every day she is volunteering for this or that or raising money to help someone in need, while also taking care of her large family. Not too long she found herself thinking a lot about how she really wanted to travel and experience other cultures, and let her kids experience that. Financially and logistically that was going to be tough, so, she did what she always does and figured out a way. She and her family decided to host an exchange student. They are getting to experience another culture and share theirs with this young student. Win/Win. This young lady has a sister in Colorado that she rarely gets to see and hasn’t ever been to visit. She said she’d love to be able to take her whole family and exchange student to Colorado for a visit over the holidays. She gave me an idea of what that would cost and the money is being sent to her today!
Recipient 2 – This family adopted 3 new children this year. They already had teenage (very cool) kids and busy lives. As you might imagine, money is tight and there are hardly enough hours in the day to get everything done. The mom wrote to me to tell me that with all that has been going on they haven’t really been able to spend some time away just as a family. At Christmas, the grandparents wanted everyone to get away together for a few days of family fun. As much as this mom wanted to do that, it wasn’t looking like it was in the cards. It is now. Money for gas and hotel rooms is headed her way via Paypal this morning.
Recipient 3 – I went to junior high with this young lady and we’ve reconnected on FB a year or two ago. She was kind and funny back then and still is. It is not surprising to discover that she is also a dedicated and loving mother. Her daughter recently took a big, exciting leap and now lives in Portland, OR. They don’t get to see each other very much. She’s so proud of her courageous daughter, but has never been able to afford to visit her in Portland. The mom mentioned this on FB, but, like many of the messages Ive gotten this year, she also said “I know others need it more” or something similar to that. The next day I got the sweetest PM on FB from the daughter. Sweet in a make your eyes leak sort of way. She told of how much her mother had always sacrificed for their family and how she taught this daughter to have a spirit of courage and gratitude and generosity. This young lady wants her mom to be able to come visit in Portland so she can “see all the things in my life that make me happy” and says she has those things because this wonderful mom “opened my world to greater possibilities.” They are working on figuring out the dates and then I’ll use my Southwest points to get a plane ticket.
Recipient 4 – When I was a kid I moved around a lot. I always made friends pretty easily, but I do still remember how hard it was to leave good friends behind. I got a FB PM from the account of a high school friend of mine, but the message was actually from her 13 year old daughter. After I figured out who “Mr. Springer” was, I read about how this young lady had recently reconnected on FB with her oldest friend and wanted nothing more than to go see her for the holidays. Her exact words were “we have known each other since we were born” and she even knew exactly how far apart they were (1,136 miles). She asked if I could help. They are going to get back to me with the dates and I can use more SW points to get these two young ladies together over the school Christmas break.
I’m really excited for all these recipients and I know you’ll join me in wishing them the safest of travels and the happiest of holidays.
And Happy Holidays to all of you, my friends.
P.S. – This project is coming to a close. Next year will be different. I won’t be doing this same monthly giveaway, but I am working on something that I hope will be fun and helpful. Stay tuned for an update sometime around the first of the year.
Good afternoon, friends! I am sorry for the delay this month. My schedule has been a little odd. Thanks for sending me your suggestions this month. I think we found someone that can really be helped out by the $1,000 this month.
My friend, Juanita, wrote this month and told me about a dear friend of hers that has recently been diagnosed with a very serious illness. Scraping together money from his friends and small family, he’s already had some surgery that was very urgent. Now he needs some further testing and will then need some ongoing treatment to make sure this illness doesn’t come back. I just reached out to the recipient via text. I think I caught him a little off guard. He had no idea how to respond and I had to convince him this wasn’t some sort of scam 🙂 I will be sending him the money today! I know you’ll join me in wishing him a speedy recovery!
I’m thinking of maybe something a little different for December. Stay tuned and check FB on December 1 for more info.
Peace, my friends.
Hello, my friends. I can’t believe this is month 10 of this project. You aren’t making the monthly decision any easier. I really hope this post finds you well and enjoying some cooler weather finally! I’m jealous of the snow pictures from some of you. It was 91 in Austin last week!
It’s been a hard last few weeks for so many folks. Though most of the cameras have moved on to the next trending catastrophe, many, many people all over the world continue to try and recover from natural disasters and violence. The mass shooting in Las Vegas and the senseless murder of a policeman in the town where I grew up have been on my mind a lot. There are empty spots at dinner tables where loved ones used to sit, and in some cases missing dinner tables and/or still no place to put one even if you had one. For some, there is very little, if anything, to eat for dinner anyway. I always wish I had some words of wisdom or some other way to soothe people. I don’t know what else to do in the face of these things, but to continue to try and help where I can.
Before I tell you about where the money is going this month, let me tell you a little story. Years ago, while I was still in law school, I was asked to be on the Board of Directors for Women’s Protective Services of Lubbock. I knew they ran a shelter for abused women and that’s about all I knew. One of the first steps in joining the Board was to get a tour of the facility (the offices, program rooms, and shelter). The tour was given by the Executive Director. I was expecting a gymnasium like room with cots and some movable curtains for privacy. I am sure I had seen something like that in some movie.
As is often the case when I make assumptions, I was dead wrong. The vibe of the place was positive. Every decision was guided by an insistence on treating the clients with dignity and helping them see a new normal that did not include emotional, financial, physical, or sexual abuse. I was immediately impressed, but I still almost declined the invitation to join the Board. I almost declined because I felt like I just could not ever identify with any of the clients in a meaningful way. What kind of leader or help could I be with no understanding of what any of them had been through? I had never been abused. I had never been physically afraid for my safety. I didn’t grow up exposed to any domestic violence. I’d never even been in a situation where I couldn’t just walk away from someone who was a jerk. I’m not proud of it now, but back then I was probably in the “why don’t they just leave and go on with their lives” camp. And I sure wouldn’t have thought that people in that shelter had anything to teach me.
I made the decision to join the Board to try and help despite my ignorance about the situation. I tried really hard to learn everything I could and not talk too much for a long time. I read a lot about domestic violence. WPS has a wonderful policy that the Board always has to include a certain number of domestic violence survivors. I think about those specific Board members often because of how much they taught me about leadership and power and courage and resilience. Many of them weren’t experts on business or finance or law or human resources or anything that you think might help lead an organization, but they were experts on our clients and always reminded us of exactly why we were there.
I ended up being on the Board for several years and was privileged to serve as Treasurer and President for a few terms. I often look back on that time. I wonder if those Board members or the clients we served know that they have probably helped me more than I ever helped them. I left the Board when I moved to Houston. I left there with a knowledge that you can help and support people you don’t understand or have much in common with if you are open to really hearing them and letting them lead you no matter which one of you has the official title. Once you allow yourself to break open a little by listening to and learning from people that you may think have nothing to teach you, you find that there is common ground, common humanity in us all. I consider it one of the most enriching experiences of my life.
This month, I had the chance to experience all of that again somewhat – a little more breaking open to try and help some folks that at first glance I may have nothing in common with and don’t really understand.
The Executive Director mentioned in the story above has been a friend of mine since that first tour. She’s got a heart for helping other people as big as Dallas and works at it like the Energizer Bunny. We’ve shared more than a few beers over the years, laughed together more times than I can count, and cried together too when necessary. She now works for a university here in Texas and runs their program for inmates in three Texas prisons to earn a degree while they are incarcerated. The program currently has 114 participants. The inmates have to pay all the fees to participate. Participants must have 5 years of good behavior while incarcerated, no behavioral issues during their schooling, and must be within 5 years of release. The goal is to give these people a way to make a living when they are released and, of course, to instill some confidence and hope in them for the future. This month, my friend asked me for the $1,000 to provide scholarships to 3 inmates who are close to graduation and don’t quite have the funds raised to pay for the last semester. These funds will allow 3 inmates who have already put in lots of work on their own to pay for their final semester and finish their degree in May of 2018. That’s where I am sending the money this month.
It’s easy enough for me, and maybe you too, to think that I have nothing in common with these inmates and no reason to help. Maybe you can think of some good reasons why this money should have gone somewhere else this month. Those thoughts crept into my mind too. I got requests this month for people who really need help and aren’t in jail. If that is what you are thinking, I’ll challenge you, like I have to continuously challenge myself – break open. I often fail at it, but I intend to keep trying. Help someone who you could dismiss as unworthy based on some preconceived judgments. Help someone who seems like they got themselves into a bad situation. Help someone you don’t understand or think you have nothing in common with. I think we do have more in common with such folks than we might like to admit, and touching that common ground, that common humanity, has always been good for me. It’s also something that feels like it’s missing from a lot of what is going on in our world today.
Peace, my friends. And thank you for coming on this journey with me.