By Marty Wiggins

Women’s Fund of Smith County

When casting was under way for the Wizard of Oz motion picture, prominent child star Shirley Temple was a frontrunner for the lead.  It’s to our lasting good fortune that Judy Garland instead was selected to play Dorothy Gale.  At 16 years old, Garland brought a special sense of possibility in portraying Dorothy’s personal journey on a yellow brick road to self-discovery.

Now, more than 80 years since its 1939 release, the Wizard of Oz still captivates audiences as they follow Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, along with a good witch, a bad witch and the wonderful wizard himself.  Throw in a pair of ruby slippers and you’ve got magic!

Along with the physical adventure on the yellow brick road, the Wizard of Oz provides an odyssey of learning about what really matters in life, including the capacity to give.  Through Dorothy’s eyes, we can experience and then apply a wealth of life lessons.

Who You Meet:  “It’s not where you go, it’s who you meet along the way,” discovers Dorothy in her journey to the sparkling Emerald City and the great Oz.  Her empathy for her three remarkable traveling companions – the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion – results in a bond of great friendship during their adventure.  You and I have the same ability to look for the good in others (as different as they may be) and to reach out with compassion and encouragement.

What You Call Home:  Dorothy’s quest, of course, is to find her way back to Kansas, already knowing “there’s no place like home.”  Glinda the Good Witch gives her a beautiful, expanded definition of home, one that we should remember.  “Home is the place we all must find child,” notes Glinda. “It’s not just a place where you eat or sleep.  Home is knowing.  Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage.  If we know ourselves, we’re always home, anywhere.”  What insightful words for each of us as individuals in often turbulent times.

When You Dare to Dream:  In “Over the Rainbow,” (which won the Best Original Song Academy Award), Dorothy sings:  “Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue.  And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”  The key word in those lyrics is “dare”– having the courage to envision a better life, a better community, a better world.  The best of charitable organizations – and those who support them – embrace missions that dare to dream as they step boldly forward to enact positive change. 

Why We All Can Help.  Sometimes the world seems too big, or too broken.  Yet each day people are joining together to help, bringing their own special resources, skills and talents.  The results are often incredible.  “You always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself,” explains the wise Glinda as she instructs Dorothy to close her eyes, tap her heels together three times and state “there’s no place like home.”  The lesson here:  we each have power within us that we can find and apply in giving and serving well.

The Women’s Fund of Smith County recognizes that we are all on a lifetime journey encompassing hearts, smarts and courage.  The members of our giving circle realize “it’s who you meet along the way” that makes community grantmaking so meaningful.  We choose to apply our funding to programs in our own backyard, knowing “there’s no place like home.”  And we “dare to dream” – and help heroic dreams become realities – in association with our nonprofit agency partners.  Finally, knowing that “together is better,” we realize that those who care truly have the power within, as together we learn about and unlock our potential. 

While only a modest financial success upon its 1939 release, the Wizard of Oz is now regarded as one of the best films of all time.  As we each continue down our own yellow brick road, let’s remember and apply the lessons learned by Dorothy – lessons of capacity and caring, and, of course, the potential of a great pair of shoes! 

The Women’s Fund of Smith County is a giving circle of more than 300 women, who collectively provide high-impact grants that benefit women and children.  Applications for 2021 Grants are available now. Submission deadline is Monday, July 13. For more information about mission, membership, funding guidelines and to apply for a grant, visit  Marty Wiggins is a Past Board Chair of the Women’s Fund and professionally provides fundraising counsel to charitable organizations.