Thursday, August 24, 2006

Private philanthropy

I was recently introduced to a young couple, both 21 years old, proud parents of a month-old baby. They live in low-income housing, dad works a joe job. . .mom stays home, no friends or family nearby, to take care of baby.

Is this an untenable situation? YOU BET IT IS! American society requires that we become rugged individualists. . .nuclear families reign supreme and exist in a vacuum of our own making. In the days of yore, mother/grandmother/sister were omnipresent. . .helping with practical matters but, more importantly, providing guidance and wisdom and support in navigating life's tricky waters. WHERE IS MY RED TENT?

Wanna make a difference? We have lots of opportunities. We can bankroll large ventures that help people help themselves. We can write and protest and travel the world looking for the downtrodden. . .hoping to shine some light on injustice.

But another option is to look a bit closer to home. Speak some kind words, bring a dinner, offer to babysit, share your experiences, your wealth, your time. I BELIEVE in private philanthropy. I believe that anyone who comes across my path presents a challenge to me, an opportunity for me. Maybe it's all my years spent in uniform as a Catholic girl but an old song keeps playing in my head. "All that I am. All that I do. All that I'll ever have I offer now to you."

2 comments:

Jane Doe said...

Comment from Jane Doe
Time: November 12, 2006, 3:51 pm

Dear Fellow Readers,

I would like to write to let everyone know that there is no truth to the “young couple” that was referenced to in this article. It bewilders me that the author can say such things about them, when she knows next to nothing about their lives. The “young woman”, she referenced to, happens to have an extremely large, supportive family… consisting mainly of women. She has a very large support system, and most of them live close by. They help guide and support her through life’s “tricky waters”. They are her “RED TENT”.

The couple chooses to live in “low income” housing to have inexpensive rent and to save money. Little does the author know that both used to live lives surrounded by money and nice things, but have chosen to start over their lives. They choose not to live off of somebody elses money such as so many others in todays society. They see that there is a much bigger picture in life than having a nice house, or driving a nice car. They have also taken a stand in their lives to stay away from drugs and alcohol. They have both realized that these things are the cause of many broken families, and choose not to create one.

The father of the family is a hard worker and provides everything material wise that the family needs… and more. This is not a family that needs “charity”, but they are greatful to FRIENDS and FAMILY who give gifts in order to welcome their childs new life into this world. A gift should be given because the giver WANTS to give it, not because they feel they NEED to. Gifts of time, words, food, and wealth would be given to ANY family from their loved ones, even if the family lived in a million dollar home.

I beleive people in society today have become very preoccupied with what is going on in other people’s lives, and forget to focus on the problems in their own lives.

Sincerely,

One Catholic Girl to Another

Marie Walden said...

Comment from Marie
Time: November 12, 2006, 7:00 pm

Let me apologize for alluding to your family when I wrote the post. I meant to write a general lesson, not your specific story, more probably my own.

I also had a baby when I was very young and, in my case, had no relationship whatsoever with the father, no hardworking provider, no one to share the experience with. I did, however, have my parents and my siblings to support me. I moved home with my parents, my dad moved his office to the house, my mother and sisters provided daycare. I had to commute to my job in Denver so it fell on others, quite a few of them, to help me work things out every day. I was lucky, like you are, to have my red tent. My son was lucky to become part of a big happy family with lots of love to give. We all came together and made good fun of having a baby in our lives. I know that you have a similar situation, with a lot of love and support, on both sides of the family, but many people do not.

Several years later, I went on to marry the father and have other children. Living with a busy husband and several little kids often made me feel very lonely. No mom, no sisters, no friends, just me and the children, much of the time. I have no doubt that had I asked for help I would’ve received it in abundance. However, that isn’t the society that we live in. We live in nuclear families. We take care of our own business. We don’t complain. The point I was trying to make is that having children can be an isolating experience. Add financial pressures and the joy and fun can evaporate entirely.

In my post, I wanted to encourage people, including myself, to look for opportunities close to home where they can give of themselves and ease a burden being borne by another.