By Kristen Seeber
Women’s Fund of Smith County
My dad had many gifts. He could bait a hook like nobody’s business, coat a wall with paint expertly and sail a catamaran close to the wind. Always whistling or singing, he had a soul of joy. He loved a good steak, a good beer and a good cigar. He taught me how to tie a shoe and how to drive a stick shift. To me, he was larger than life with a booming voice and an even bigger personality. I miss him every day.
The gift I cherish most from my dad is the gift of encouragement. We all need a pat on the back every now and then, and my dad gave them cheerfully and often. With that pat on the back, you could expect an arm around your shoulder and a compliment in your ear. I remember a trip to Six Flags in Dallas, when I was in junior high school. He stopped to talk to a young employee who was sweeping the sidewalks and picking up trash around the park. He told her, “You have an important job here, and you’re doing it well!” I will never forget the way he looked her in the eyes and the proud smile she gave him in return. At any restaurant we ever went to, he would ask our server’s name and treat him with genuine gratitude.
Simple acts of kindness never go unnoticed. When we encourage others, in truth, what we are giving them is courage! Courage is bravery in the face of pain or grief, showing valor and, sometimes, true grit. In my experience with nonprofit agencies, I have seen these moments of struggle and strength. It takes courage for a single mom of three to walk through the doors of the Literacy Council of Tyler and sign up for a GED class. It takes courage for an abused teen to tell her story to a therapist at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County, and it takes courage for a hard working uninsured man to sit in a dental chair at Bethesda Health Clinic. My brother and sisters and I found courage at The Hospice of East Texas, where we said goodbye to our dad.
Supporting organizations that offer healing and hope makes all of us encouragers and champions of great causes. In the process, we are helping to restore self-esteem, inspiring someone to become more determined, more confident. Giving begins with belief – believing that even the smallest gift can make a difference and believing that everyone is worthy of a chance.
So, on this Father’s Day, let’s think about it. How can we honor our dads? Is the perfect gift really another tie, a set of golf balls or one more coffee mug? Maybe a better way would be to commit to financially support a cause your dad cares about or to volunteer with him at his favorite charity throughout the year. You could pay forward his kindheartedness by creating a fund or program through an organization in honor of or in memory of your father.
One of my dad’s favorite quotes was from George S. Patton: “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.” I can still feel my dad near me, especially when I’m feeling uncertain or even insecure. Those are the times when I can almost hear him say, “You can do it. I believe in you. God takes care of the sparrows, Kristen, but He doesn’t drop the food in their nest.” My dad buoyed me and, still today, motivates me to do my part in this world, knowing I’m never alone. Showing courage and giving courage are my gifts to him and, I hope, gifts to others. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.
Kristen Seeber serves as president of the Women’s Fund of Smith County, a philanthropic organization which provides high-impact grants that bring positive change to the lives of women and children in our community. Membership to this giving circle is open to all women who are interested in learning more about philanthropy. Visit www.womensfundsc.org for information about our mission and to apply for a grant. Applications for the 2017 Women’s Fund of Smith County High-Impact Grants are due by Friday, July 15.