Monday, August 19, 2013

Essay on Generosity (3 of 7)

Did you know that Franklin D. Roosevelt was the founder of the March of Dimes?  The organization, which now raises money for research for preventing birth defects and premature births, was founded in 1938 to raise money for research and to assist those who were effected by polio.  The organization reached instant national recognition because of the popularity of it's founder and his personal ties to the disease (the president could not walk because of his own battle with polio).

The organization was originally founded as National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, but the term "March of Dimes" was coined because of the original request that every child in the country donate one dime (the name was officially changed in the 1970s). These little dimes added up to make a big difference.  

(Their mission was changed to the prevention of birth defects in babies after Jonas Salk's polio vaccine mostly irradiated the disease -- but they continued to raise money through small donations in communities).

I remember my mother volunteered as a block captain for the March of Dimes in the 1960s and 1970s.  She would visit each of our neighbors and ask for donations, that were put into a small can, which she would turn in at the end of the designated week each year.  As a young child I would go with her on these social calls, and sometimes the money she raised was only a few coins from each person.  I remember her talking with me about how a few cents alone may not seem as though it could not have an impact, but if every block in the country raised just a few dollars, the amount of money would add up to huge amounts of money.  She told me she volunteer because it only took a couple of hours a year, and that those who are fortunate need to find little ways to give back.

To make a difference in our world you do not need to create a new organization or have a President of the United States champion your cause.  There are plenty of causes that are already being served by amazing charities, and while in our entrepreneurial society people like to start new groups, we do not always have to launch something new.  The spirit of generosity in people looks for ways to get out, but too often we think it must be through a grand act if it is to have meaning.  I disagree, as it is the small things done over time that add.

Just as those single dimes from children, or the small donations from neighbors, added together to cure polio, your small actions will stack upon themselves.  Being a catalyst is not necessarily about being the founder or leader of an organization.  Any one of us can take our own generosity and grow it by stacking our donations of time and money over a lifetime.  

It is easy to get started.  Begin today by doing something small.  Then repeat it over and over again.  Years from now you will discover that it added up.  You will look back and say "What?  I did that?".  Time has a way of allowing our small efforts to grow.  

You can make a difference.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

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