Philanthropy and Service


Philanthropy and Service

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Philanthropy: good will towards members of the human race; especially: active effort to promote human welfare (Merriam Webster)

It's safe to say that "philanthropy" is generally associated with some person or some organization with great wealth actively seeking to give away a portion of that wealth for the betterment of others through foundations, grants and various other charitable causes.  It may also be safe to say that SEI is not a wealthy organization by any stretch of the imagination. We don't have a corporate jet, or a driver, or even an office on Wall Street.  We have a bicycle, a dog and a PO Box. 

But to say that SEI is not wealthy is slightly narrow-minded.  According to Global Issues, 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day, which, coincidentally, is about what I may spend on a quick lunch.  1.1 billion people live without adequate access to water, and I have been known to complain about our community's lawn irrigation restrictions. 1 billion children live in poverty, while my three kids each have their own room, their own bike and access to all of the food they could possibly eat.  So, to what does SEI owe its incredible level of success?  Quite honestly, it's because I was fortunate enough to be born in the USA and not an impoverished, third world country.  I grew up with an abundance of food, unlimited education, ubiquitous medical care and climate-controlled shelter.  All of these things helped me stay on the high end of the world's health and wealth held by individuals.  Seriously, it's very telling that the average American's concern about food is not where the next meal will come from, but is instead a legitimate concern about over-consumption, weight gain and expanding waistlines. 

Many times data like this are used to instill feelings of guilt and compel others to "give."  I see it a little differently.  First, my family and I acknowledge that what we have is a gift, there's really nothing we did to earn it, and there's little we can do to save it if someone or something is intent on taking it away.  Second, we recognize that there is need everywhere and that there are different types of need.  For instance, someone within a mile of my house may need school supplies for their child, while a community in Africa may need funds to dig and maintain a clean water well.  Finally, we have made it a priority to consistently try and turn our blessings into blessings for others.

There is no right way to give and there is no right gift to give.  The key is simply to give.  To give your time, to give school supplies, to give clothes, to give food, to give comfort, to give a smile, to give a listen and, yes, sometimes, to give money.