By Kristen Seeber
Women's Fund of Smith County
Years ago, a very special friend introduced me to a book entitled, “Silver Boxes”. The author, Florence Littauer, describes moments teaching young children the importance of using words that are helpful and build up others. One bright boy declared, “Our words should be like building blocks.” Another boy shouted, “And we shouldn’t go around and knock other people’s blocks down!”
Littauer latched onto the boys’ comparison and took the picture further by asking the children to envision a pile of good words, helping them understand how one negative remark could knock down all those blocks. She explained that when our words come out of our mouths, they should be like little presents all wrapped up to be given away. Finally, a precocious girl stood and loudly summarized, “What she means is that our words should be like little silver boxes with bows on top.”
Because my love language is words of affirmation, this beautiful image has stayed with me. So much so, I chose ‘Silver Boxes’ as my theme when I chaired the admissions/provisional program for the Junior League of Tyler soon after reading the book. It was an honor to guide the newest members of the organization during that year, as we all learned together about the impact of service to our community. At the conclusion of each weekly meeting, we gave one another silver boxes – verbal presents – to encourage us along our journey. Sometimes, it was a simple thank you for a job well done. Other times, it was a personal message about how the experience of volunteering had lifted a heart, humbled a soul and changed a life.
That year, and that group of 47 women, truly changed me. Though my role was to mentor, each of them taught me. I learned lessons of grace, goodness and gratitude. I learned that community is home, and I learned what it really means to take care of our own.
Much like the Junior League of Tyler and many other nonprofits, the Women’s Fund of Smith County exists to transform the lives of others. We are a collection of diverse women yet dedicated with the same passion for our mission. Our gifts transcend self to offer hope and healing, courage and compassion - grants that nurture our community, making it kinder and stronger. Giving together not only leverages the gift but also leverages the love and the belief that come with it. Our voices amplify, as we cheer on our neighbors to help them feel less alone.
While it is often true that actions speak louder than words, it is also true that words can resound and reach a deeper place. When words are given to edify the listener, their power can be limitless. A hello to a stranger, a compliment to a co-worker, a note to a friend can change the downtrodden to hopeful, the lonely to loved, the anxious to brave – silver boxes with bows on top.
At the end of our year together, the provisional class gifted me with a velvet lined silver box. Atop it, framed with silver thread, is a photograph of our closely-knit group. Inside the box are hand-written notes from each of them. Forty-seven personal messages which inspire, embolden and hearten me. This treasure is one of my most cherished possessions – one I would surely grab if my house were on fire. Each note is a silver box - words of joy, gentleness and love. It is difficult to convey how deeply meaningful this gift is to me. I can only hope to gift it forward – that my words to others be neatly wrapped with a bow – that they might have a box of God’s own love.
Kristen Seeber serves as 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.