For one thing, by being in a position to give, you are inherently doing okay. Giving forces you to see that you HAVE. This awareness is itself a kind of gift.
Giving encourages intimacy with need. You might become aware of the sting of your own emptiness; you might see how easy some needs are to fill, which might (for just a moment) make life seem just. Often, when we give, we see that others have needs greater than ours (because in hurt, we have closed our eyes). Always, when we give, we know we are not alone. We find we can make a difference.
Science also shows us that altruism feels good: performing a good deed, volunteering for a cause, or even the abstract and removed act of writing a check has been shown to release endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones.
It can be hard to get used to giving away — especially — money. I have always been a tightwad and usually, had to scrimp just to keep my own interests alive. But when I started to share my income with projects I believed in, when I got my money to working outside my household, I started not only to understand that money better but also to feel more engaged in the world.
All of a sudden, I wasn’t just USING. I was PART of whatever it was.
Take my church. By making a decent sized gift each year — giving a portion of my income, paying the church FIRST, not some bit when everything else was left over — I became an investor. And “investment” refers equally to having a financial stake in something and keeping your heart there.
Giving enabled me to connect in a different way, one that I had never had. A peculiarly ADULT way. One with not only dreams, but also responsibilities.
So I give.
I give to a few organizations that do things I think need to be done. I do because I want them to keep going. I don’t care if they spend what I give on copy paper or programs, but that’s just me. I do expect them to handle the money responsibly but I also expect “my staff” (see how that happened?) to be paid fairly.
The largest share of my “schedule A” giving goes to Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation (SSLF). I do this because SSLF is building the programs that I wish had existed when my husband died in 2006 (the first Camp Widow was held in 2009). SSLF shares my vision and they allow me to help (I now serve on their board). Soaring Spirits was the partner that enabled WidowedVillage.org, the dream that came out of my spending way too much time on Facebook, to become a reality.
Peer support saved my life. SSLF is providing that same comradeship and hope to thousands of widowed people every day. SSLF builds these connections in creative and important ways.
If you’d like to say their programs are YOURS too, make a gift.
It might be easy to feel that your individual gift is not the kind that will make a difference. It’s probably pretty easy to imagine that someone who’s doing a lot better than you can afford to give a larger share. You might think that lots of corporations and foundations are willing to fund SSLF programs right now. Would you believe me if I said that neither of those things is true?
But I know you recognize this story: the intense relief and gratitude in the face of someone who for the first time, meets another widowed person they can relate to. It's astonishing: you share one small experience or feeling with them and all of a sudden, they "get it" that you "get it." Their eyes light up. They don’t feel that is a small contribution. For that person at that moment, the world stops being completely broken and becomes a world where a bit of light is visible through one of the cracks. These connections are our path to hope.
SSLF is lean and growing rapidly but dependent on individuals like you and me.
We want it to be easy for you… we want you to be able to think carefully about your gift (if you like) … or to just set it and forget it. Our new site on StayClassy makes it easy to give once, or set up a ...
If your gift means something to you, believe me, it will mean something to this organization and to all the people we will serve next year.
So think about it… and tell me afterwards if it was as good to give to this group as it was to receive.