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An Act of Inspiration

I don’t know where you were Super Bowl Sunday about 9:00 when CBS Sunday Morning came on. It’s among my two or three appointment TV times. On that Sunday, I was blown away by a segment entitled, “Selling Your Home for Charity.” Yes, you read that right. The Selwen family of Atlanta, Georgia sold their home and donated $800,000 of the proceeds to charity.
Hannah is the daughter in this family, and she couldn’t reconcile seeing homeless, hungry people around her while living in the lap of luxury. So, she got the ball in motion.
Americans are generous. On average, we give 2.2% of what we earn to charities of our choice, including our church, synagogue, mosque…wherever you may go to worship. In 2008, our charity accounted for $307 billion (Giving USA, 2009).
The Selwen family has written a book, “The Power of Half.” They took half the proceeds from the sale of their home and donated it to the Hunger Project; specifically, to build a mill in a town in Ghana. They used the other half to buy a home for themselves a few blocks away from where they once lived that occupies about half the footprint of their first home. In their book, they describe how the came to this act that goes beyond our understanding of “generosity.” A twist on the saying, “build it, and they will come.”
This Act of Inspiration came from a personal experience. Hannah Selwen had a philanthropic urge, and recruited her family to act on it. I wonder if there was some deep-seated sense for doing the right thing that drove her to act.
Stories like the Selwen’s are good to hear.
I advocate nonprofits I work with to find their stories. How the program services they provide have changed peoples’ lives for the better. How, if they could do a bit more, they could reach and serve a few more people. So the mission and the services provided can tap into the philanthropic spirit that lies within each of us. Well, at least 75% of us.
Henry David Thoreau said, “What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” Indeed.
In the same segment, CBS also interviewed Willie Mae Dorsey, a checkout clerk at an Atlanta supermarket. Willie Mae told CBS she makes $25,000 a year and gives 10% of what she makes to charity.
Willie Mae is an inspiration.
We have lots of inspiring stories. Find them. Tell them. They bring out the best in people. They give people good reason to want to join you in making a difference in the lives of people you serve.
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