What we learn from our mothers about philanthropy
By Kristen Seeber
Women’s Fund of Smith County
“A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
I have always loved that quote from Tenneva Jordan, because it is the perfect picture of my mother. She is happiest, when everyone else is happy! Most certainly, my mother’s love language is acts of service. She will bake your favorite pie, wash and fold your laundry, have fresh flowers on your bedside table, sing to you when you’re down and show up on your doorstep with the book you mentioned once you’d like to read.
Like many of you, my brother and sisters and I are blessed with a beautiful mom, who taught us about charitable giving. Whether the simple act of placing an offering in the collection plate every Sunday or a visit to the nursing home, my mom made sure we understood our world went beyond ourselves. As a Girl Scout leader, a community volunteer and loyal friend, she modeled for us how to give from the heart. She showed us that supporting organizations that enhance our community is a responsibility, an opportunity and a privilege.
But, mostly, my mother’s philanthropic legacy is how she lives. She’s kind. She’s humble. She’s brave. She’s a doer, and love precedes all of her philanthropic actions.
Giving stories often have strong beginnings – something or someone inspires us to a lifetime of giving. At a recent small gathering of Women’s Fund members, we went around the circle sharing our earliest memories of giving. Almost every story began with, “My mother…” We listened to stories of sitting at the dinner table with people in need who became honored guests, going to church to polish pews, waiting at the hospital in silent support, caring for stray animals, donating toys and outgrown clothes. We listened to stories of great sacrifice. It was a wonderful way to while away an hour and invest in each other and in our mission of encouraging philanthropy. We laughed and cried – in gratitude – so thankful that we had been taught and taught well about selfless giving. Is there a better teacher than a mother?
Mother’s Day is a very special opportunity to honor the woman who brought us into this world or to honor the woman who nurtured us with unconditional love and instilled in us courage to face every day. For some of us, that may mean closing our eyes and remembering her voice, her laughter. For others of us, it means reaching out to her with a gesture of deep appreciation. Hopefully, though, for all of us, it means continuing to learn from her about how to give. Our choices in life, then, will reflect her wise admonitions, and we will come to understand the significance of saving a piece of pie for someone else! Bringing that lesson to life would honor any mom and make her proud.
Kristen Seeber serves as president of the Women’s Fund of Smith County which seeks to leverage the philanthropic capacity of women as a catalyst for positive change. To learn more about this unique circle of giving that benefits our community in immeasurable ways, please visit www.womensfundsc.org