By Alex Cohen
Giving is a very personal thing for everyone; some give out of guilt, some out of obligation, some just for pure pleasure – there are so many different reasons.
To me, giving means sharing what I have an abundance of: time, talent and treasure. When I was young I had a ton of time and spent it in the church rectory “rummage sale store” working with my mother after school. Things were different then. Our homework was usually a worksheet or two, so the free time I had I spent sharing my time. My talent then was my creativity. I could pretty up any old garment with a mending here and there, a good washing and maybe a ribbon added to the right place. I could create a celebration for anything with very little money. I would create banners, bake cakes, decorate a room using paper and glue or anything to make it nice. My treasure then was a very small one, but whatever I had, I offered, when needed, without any expectation of reimbursement.
Fast-forward… What does giving mean to me today? What does my time, talent and treasure look like presently?
I am in the position, at this point in my life, to relax and work less. Instead I decided to go back to work and take this Foundation to the next level. I join my team on a regular basis to visit new grantee sites, keep in touch with all our grantees regularly, brainstorm my next idea and do due diligence on all the new requests for grants. There are not enough hours in the day – with my work at home, help at the firm, and my responsibility to my husband and five children. Not to mention the time I spend with my most special friends… I may not be there 100% of the time but when they need me – I show up. I spread myself very thin but I wouldn’t change a thing!
I have been told that I have a wealth of information, or as my husband says, I am “full of useless information.” What do I know a lot about? I have raised five kids – one boy and four girls, including a set of identical twins. Talk about life experience… I married my best friend. 25 years together: not happy 24/7-365 but 98.9% of the time we could not be happier being in each others’ lives…just ask him! Lots of advice in that department too. I am obsessed with medicine and should have been a doctor but alas I am only an AAD (Almost A Doctor) according to my late father-in-law, Jack. If I don’t have the answer I can always find it for you quickly.
I don’t have to tell you how blessed we have been in that department, but what I can tell you is that we derive so much pleasure from helping others and seeing how what we do changes the lives of so many. Someone once told me, “the more you give, the more you will have.” We are not finished – we are just getting started. I want this to be my legacy; I want to change the world even if it’s in the smallest way.
My favorite story, which reflects how I have tried to live my life, is Loren Eiseley’s, The Star Thrower. In it, a wise old man finds a young man throwing beached starfish into the ocean. The old man tells the young man that he can’t make a difference throwing back one starfish at a time when there are so many washed up on shore.
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”
What does Giving mean to you? Tell us, show us and join us in our movement to Love the GIVE! Learn how to make a difference at www.LovetheGIVE.com.