Reasons for giving outnumber the gifts

Posted 6/12/19

When it comes to philanthropy, the reasons people give to the cause of their choice are as diverse as the gifts received. Some donors give money.Some donors give trusts.Some donors give …

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Reasons for giving outnumber the gifts


When it comes to philanthropy, the reasons people give to the cause of their choice are as diverse as the gifts received. 

Some donors give money.

Some donors give trusts.

Some donors give time.

Some donors give leadership.

Some donors give experience.

Some donors give personal testament.

As for why they give, the answers are just as varied … some might be as simple as “it’s the right thing to do,” or as complex as “when I was in need they helped me; now, I will help them.”

At the recent Annual Meeting & Awards Banquet of United Way of the Ocoee Region, such testimony welcomed some of the spotlight. Although awards and recognitions ruled the celebration — as described on the front page of this newspaper in mid-May, and then reinforced in an editorial in last Sunday’s edition — it also served as a chance for United Way supporters to explain why they do what they do.

One of the most telling accounts came from Dr. Phil Cook, a United Way board member and vice president of admissions at Lee University. In his testimony, he offered stories of inspiration — partly because United Way years ago had touched his heart, and partly because he wanted the hearts of others to touch United Way.

As a young child growing up in western Pennsylvania, Cook used to see a Pittsburgh Steelers legend — Mel Blount — endorse United Way on TV spots during NFL games. The key message was one still sounded in today’s moment: “Thanks to you it works for all of us.”

In more recent years, Cook has worked closely with United Way and recalls serving on one of the agency’s Fund Distribution Panels. For him, it was an eye-opening opportunity to see need, to understand its impact on Cleveland and Bradley County families, and to share his voice in the group’s discourse on whether to fund the request and if so, by how much.

“… It made me proud, it made me want to give more,” he told his United Way audience.

On another occasion, his family became the recipient of services rendered by two United Way member agencies when his nephew became sick. By this point, United Way became something personal for the Lee University department head.

“I will always give to United Way and I hope you will do the same,” he stressed.

Though unique in its circumstance, Cook’s story is one that is told over and over by local families whose own lives once turned dark from tragedy, and who needed the helping hand of a United Way agency.

Like Cook, they saw — with their own eyes — the good that is done by this respected organization.

Like Cook, they felt — with their own hearts — the warmth in knowing that someone out there cared, that somebody was willing to get involved by reaching out with a comforting hand and by reaching from within through a knowing smile.

Like Cook, they understood — with their own compassion — the need to pay it forward by giving back … on a future day … to those who had given to them.

Sometimes United Way believers give through their donations, other times by giving of themselves … people like Paul Leath, Shawna Staup, Britain Miethe, Brent Steward, Tracey Wright, Heath Garrett, Heather Freeman, Brandi King and Dr. Russell Dyer, all of whom received deserved recognitions for making a difference in the lives of others.

Yes, United Way is a story that should be told with the deepest of convictions. Its history is long. Its process is sound. Its impact is proven. And its heart, well … it beats to one rhythm, and one rhythm alone: It is the rhythm of community, one whose people stand united and whose collective vision lights the way.

To make a difference in the life of another is a choice. To do it without expectation is an act of humanity.


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