By Kristen Seeber
After five years of serving with a beautiful circle of givers, my role as president of the Women’s Fund of Smith County has concluded. The timing is especially poignant for me, as it coincides with my favorite season – Thanksgiving. While I may not need a holiday to remind me to be thankful, it is meaningful to pause and reflect with gratitude.
Thank You – words which cannot be spoken or heard often enough. They are the two most important words in philanthropy. Relationships are at the center of any giving experience, and authentic expressions of appreciation deepen the connection between the giver and the receiver. I have learned many philanthropic lessons during my years serving with the Women’s Fund, but perhaps no greater lesson than that of gratefulness. It can be the difference between reaching and exceeding goals; the difference between helping a few and helping many.
I came into this leadership position with a resume of nonprofit board involvement and trusted I was equipped to take the reins. Little did I know that the reins would take me – to a better understanding of what it means to impact community and transform lives. There is something unique about women giving together, something special about women giving to women and children. When the life of a woman is changed, a family is changed, a community is changed – for good.
It is no wonder the Women’s Fund of Smith County is described as a giving circle. Together, we see one another, we listen to each other. We are connected. The hands held in this circle are hands of kindness, compassion and gentle strength. We give individually; but, through our circle of togetherness, our gift is leveraged for even more impact. Our circle will not be broken. It is bound with gratitude, recognizing each and every gift. The only reason to let go of another’s hand is to open the space, to allow the hands of someone new to join us. The wider the circle, the greater the gifts, the more lives touched.
I’ve heard it said, “Each time women gather in circles with one another, the world heals a little more.” It is very powerful to be a part of someone’s journey to find healing, hope and restoration. The Women’s Fund is humbled and honored to have been a part of many such journeys in our thirteen-year history. One of those is mine. I, too, have endured loss and days of darkness. Their graciousness helped me find my way again, and I will always be thankful. They show me the light, they stand in the gap, they help me be brave. That’s what this circle does – surrounds others, because we believe together is better. Sometimes, life’s journey includes paths of long-suffering. It is comforting to know there are companions along the way to keep us from feeling lost and alone in this world.
I try to look at the glass as neither half empty nor half full; but as overflowing with God’s goodness and faithfulness unto me. My bounty of blessings includes these wise, wonderful women whose benevolence has transformed me. This message is far from goodbye, for I will be part of this meaningful mission always. What is on my heart is gladness, because I know our purpose is not about one moment in time. The pilgrimage of thanks and giving goes on and on…
Kristen Seeber is former president of the Women’s Fund of Smith County, a collective giving circle of more than 300 women with a mission of transforming our community by funding programs that enrich the lives of women and children. Any woman with a giving heart is welcome to join our organization. Please visit www.womensfundsc.org for information about membership and outreach.