By Marty Wiggins

Guest Columnist

EDITOR’S NOTE:  “Give Well” is a weekly column written by Dawn Franks of Your Philanthropy, Kyle Penney of the East Texas Communities Foundation and representatives of The Women’s Fund of Smith County.

On May 7, members of The Women’s Fund of Smith County and their guests joined in celebrating inspirational women at the organization’s second annual Mother’s Day Luncheon.  The program included a deeply emotional new video, in which local Women’s Fund members shared stories about their mothers and grandmothers.  The overarching sentiment was Gratitude, a topic that merits exploration.

In the best-selling 2014 book  “The Seven Deadly Virtues,” editor Jonathan V. Last makes the case for Gratitude as the as the best of the virtues, surpassing Justice, Curiosity, Prudence and all others.  Cisero agreed, stating that “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”  When you think, about it, Gratitude is the wellspring of both Humility and Ambition, the platform to Courage and the driving force behind Charity.

We’ve all heard about the importance of “an attitude of gratitude” throughout everyday life.  Some people even keep a gratitude journal to help them remember life’s blessings, even in the midst of challenges.

So, then, is Gratitude the benediction of a life well led – the icing on the cake?  If you really listen to the members of The Women’s Fund, you find that’s not the case.  Their hearts were filled with Gratitude by watching their mothers and grandmothers in action.  These were women of past generations who quietly fed the hungry, who made education a priority even when times were hard and who contributed their time and resources routinely.  It wasn’t philanthropy, or giving back or paying it forward – it was simply the right thing to do.

Mostly importantly, our mothers and grandmothers molded us with a reverence for life, for kindness and for service.  Today’s members of The Women’s Fund are honoring these women of inspiration by using Gratitude as motivation in their own lives.  Gratitude, then, is the engine to progress.  We move forward in large part because we appreciate those who came before us and want to make our own contributions to their work.

Gratitude, then, becomes not only a virtue but a verb – an action word that propels us to remember our own blessings and to give generously to others.

This world is not perfect, but its improvement will come one person at a time as we try to be better people, to live better lives and to make a better community and world.  All of this begins with Gratitude, by saying “thank you” for what we have now and by using Gratitude as the catalyst to a joyful, philanthropic life.

Marty Wiggins serves as Director of the ETMC Foundation and the 2015 Chair of The Women’s Fund of Smith County.  Please consider joining our organization – go to for membership and additional information.