Secret Superheroes of Our CommunitySubmitted by Stone House Investment Management, LLC on March 13th, 2017
Actions speak louder than words. Regardless of the size of your community, you have the ability to make a difference. The following is a message from Stone House Investment Management, LLC Director of Financial Planning/Senior Advisor/Partner, Robert J. Brown.
Having been a volunteer in my local community for over 20 years, I have had the pleasure of serving on the board of the Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains, as well as the Wyoming County United Way. While I have witnessed amazing milestones, seldom do I see something new or eye opening. However, at a recent United Way event in Wyoming County, I found myself caught up in one of those ‘a-ha’ moments that not only opened my eyes even more, but that also filled me with pride to witness a perfect example of how “the process” is supposed to work.
For those who attended this year’s United Way celebration, we were privileged to have an impressive woman in attendance, Cindy, who works at a local agency that the United Way helps to fund. Cindy had asked young women to accompany her to this year’s event. Wisely, she introduced us all to each of these young ladies who represented different stages of life. The first was a young elementary student, the second a college student, and the final speaker was now an adult. All three of them, in their own way, shared some truly heart-warming, tear-jerking testimony about their lives.
As they each spoke, I began to realize that they really each had two things in common:
1) Circumstances and randomness had dealt each one of these young women an unfortunate hand, and their lives were surrounded by darkness.
2) They each had Cindy.
If you think I might be exaggerating about how important she was to these girls, think of it this way: Have you ever been in complete darkness, darkness so thick that you put your arms out in front of yourself, in fear of what you might bump into next? No matter how much you squint, or what direction you look toward, nothing is there. Now, imagine someone comes walking toward you with a candle. Surely, it is only a little candle, but think about it; when you are in total darkness and feeling lost, that candle is so much more. From your perspective, it is a beacon of hope. Even if it is only a little bit of light, hope, or guidance, sometimes it is just enough for you to get your bearings and finally be able to move forward again.
In this example of these three young women who graciously, and with great humility, shared their stories with us that night, Cindy was like a lighthouse in a stormy time of their life. For a window of time, she was the only stable piece in their lives. For them, that’s exactly what they needed. The older girls have completely turned their lives around and the youngest is already headed in the right direction again.
As I drove home that night, one of the things that struck me was Cindy, and all of the others like her within the many agencies that our local United Way helps to support. There are many other non-profits and volunteer organizations out there who are so very lucky to have one or several people who give so much of themselves and expect so little in return. I believe these people are superheroes within our community and I applaud each and every one of them for their selfless efforts.
Most of us work at our jobs everyday and go home with a paycheck that we feel is relatively fair. These exceptional individuals are almost always underpaid. Trust me, they are not in it for the money. There is a different drive in their minds, a higher cause for which they serve. After hearing these ladies talk about how Cindy has truly changed (and possibly saved) their lives, I have a new appreciation for the difference we all have the ability to make in each other’s lives. People like Cindy are rare, so rare that they stand out from us at times. Shame on us all, as a community, if we are not able to provide these exceptional individuals, like Cindy, with the tools they need to help so many people.
The majority of us who are not volunteering or working for charity are still a huge part of the process! This whole cycle does not happen without donations. As giving as Cindy and her peers are, they can’t operate on a ZERO budget. Every dollar you give makes a difference, it really does. I don’t care so much as to why you choose to donate money, whether it is for a tax incentive or certain causes that are meaningful. I just want to make sure you understand how important that money is and often just how FAR that dollar goes. Again, think of that candle that is way off in the darkness. It is only a small candle, but when you are at your lowest point, even the smallest act of kindness can make all the difference. If you are thinking of donating, whether monetarily or through your physical efforts, realize the difference your actions have the ability to make.
At Stone House, it is always personal.