By Kristen Seeber
Women’s Fund of Smith County
When I was growing up in the early 1970s, a television commercial for Van Camp’s Pork and Beans featured a song that pops into my head with surprising frequency – especially during the months of summer. You might remember it, too. The jingle went like this:
“Simple pleasures are the best,
All the little things that make you smile and glow,
All the things you know,
Life’s simple pleasures are the best,
Are the best,
In all the world.”
Corny? Maybe. But I think the reason I find myself singing along these days is because summer, as hot as it is, is a time for vacations, slowing down and relaxing just a bit more often. The days are longer, the dress is casual and, somehow, life seems simpler.
Do you remember how summer felt when we were kids? We didn’t think about the heat or much else. We just lived. Summer days were filled with bike rides, long afternoons at the swimming pool – begging for one more jump off the diving board – popsicles, watermelon, lemonade stands and homemade ice cream. After dinner, neighborhood kids gathered in the backyard to play endless games of kickball and hide-and-go-seek. When the sun went down, we would run through the grass to catch lightning bugs then lie on the grass and stare at the stars. Those were the nights of best sleep.
If you’re lucky, you still enjoy simple summer pleasures. I love the sounds and smells of summer: dinner cooking on the barbecue, suntan lotion, rain at the end of a hot day, chlorine, the bell of an ice cream truck, citronella candles, freshly mown grass at dusk. Even the cicadas, katydids and crickets sing to us, as if to remind us to listen and take it easy.
Sometimes, the little things in life make the biggest impressions. I recently was reminded of this feeling while at Camp Tyler Outdoor School. Members of the Women’s Fund of Smith County were there for a Grants-In-Action site visit. Our grant funded their program, “Camp Tyler Unleashed,” a residential summer camp for elementary school-aged children. We spent the morning and enjoyed lunch with these campers and their counselors and saw firsthand how our grant was positively impacting lives. Although the gift from the Women’s Fund may have been large, it offered simple pleasures – swimming and fishing off the lake dock, archery and time with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, whereby caring for horses contributes to character building. These experiences became life lessons of communication, compassion, determination, obedience, respect, tenacity and generosity. Simple pleasures that bring light and love.
While we should be thoughtful and intentional about giving, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether seeking advice about planned giving, creating a charitable fund, setting up a scholarship or making a donation to an annual fund, the simple truth is someone’s life will be enriched because of the gift. Philanthropy in its purest form is the love of humanity. It’s as simple as that. Each of us can be ordinary heroes by serving others, and it often doesn’t take much to make somebody smile and glow. I hope you’re humming with me…life’s simple pleasures are the best – in all the world.
Kristen Seeber serves as president of Women’s Fund of Smith County, a collective giving circle, whose grant awards benefit women and children in our community. In keeping with its mission of leveraging the philanthropic capacity of women as a catalyst for positive change, Women’s Fund also provides education and leadership opportunities to its over 200 members. Please visit www.womensfundsc.org for more information.