By Marty Wiggins
Women’s Fund of Smith County

As we know from Ecclesiastes, “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”  I believe this includes a time to give, and a time to receive.  There is power in both, for receiving leads to gratitude  . . . and gratitude becomes the spark for giving.

To illustrate this point, let me tell you a story.  In January 1986, a 10-month-old boy named Brian was at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.  Having been born with a serious heart defect, Brian had fought for life through months of congestive heart failure and pneumonias.  At 10 months, his only hope was open heart surgery to repair his damaged heart.

The surgery took place, and while Brian was still recovering in the Children’s Medical ICU, the ETMC Chaplain at that time one day surprised his family in the ICU waiting room.  He was there with a gift:  money that had been collected from ETMC managers to help with the burden of a long stay in Dallas. His mom had only worked at the hospital for five months, making this gift even more thoughtful. What a blessing to receive!

Today that tiny baby with the heart defect is grown – he’s my terrific son, Brian Wiggins.  In 1986, little did I know that I would have the chance to help relieve the burdens of ETMC families in times of personal crisis, as the ETMC Helping Hands Fund was created in 2001 under the ETMC Foundation, and continues today.  Thanks to an original seed gift from the late Peaches and Bruce Brookshire, plus ongoing support from ETMC team members, the Helping Hands Fund has assisted hundreds of ETMC families dealing with serious illness and similar situations, for a total outreach now exceeding $1.3 million.

This story began with giving, but also receiving — a beautiful circle of God’s resources at work among his people.  At some time, YOU will be on the receiving end:  whether it’s a compliment, a casserole or a cash gift to help you through a hard time.  The tendency is often to downplay a need, especially when someone asks what they can do for you.  Instead of being embarrassed or worried about accepting help, realize that you are brightening the giver’s life as well.

Our children, grandchildren, friends and others watch how we respond when assistance is kindly offered.  Let’s all remember to be a model for receiving well, just as we try to be for giving well.  Again, it takes both to form the never-ending circle of gratitude and generosity.

At certain times, discussion of philanthropy possibly focuses too much on the big gifts, the big things. But it’s the little things – sparking through our days and nights – that often give us all the power to transform our world.

I have been fortunate to experience the beauty of giving and of receiving through the work of the ETMC Foundation, the Women’s Fund of Smith County and all of the non-profits that mean so much to our community.  At this joyous season, let’s continue to give with grace, to receive with gratitude and to catch those sparks that light the way to a better world.

Marty Wiggins was honored with the 2017 Spark Award at this year’s National Philanthropy Day Luncheon in recognition of her service to help ignite philanthropy in our community. Ms. Wiggins is the Director of the ETMC Foundation and is the Immediate Past Board Chair of the Women’s Fund of Smith County, a giving circle of more than 250 women, who collectively provide high-impact grants that benefit women and children.  For information on membership, please call 903-509-1771 or visit