This past Thursday, I sat down with three generations of my family – our kids and our grandkids, and with our extended family of friends that come over to fill our house with laughter, love and of course delicious food. As we passed the sweet potatoes and enjoyed salads from our garden, we went around the table thanking one another, sharing our appreciation for friends and neighbors. I thought about the community we were describing, a collection of individuals who had given something to someone – a cup of sugar, an understanding shoulder – and in doing so, created a ripple effect that we were sharing around the table.
Four days after Thanksgiving, today is the first annual Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to celebrating and inspiring the act of giving. Giving Tuesday is a national initiative that follows on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – days when those of us with much are able to buy gifts for friends and family. Giving Tuesday is a day that celebrates what I am truly thankful for: the philanthropists I interact with every day, who understand the importance of giving back.
Philanthropy is a very important word to me; it literally means the love of humanity. To some folks, it means writing a large check – but to me, it’s about giving back in any way that you can. Those who give their time, their talents or, of course, their dollars are participating in an act that binds us all together because their gifts help others who may someday give as well and so we create a powerful community.
Giving back is an investment in our community, it’s a way of buying into Greater Austin, our future as a city, a region and a family. In many ways, it’s not different than lending a cup of sugar; though you may not know the neighbors you are helping.
In our community, one out of seven people live in poverty. The past few years have been particularly lean, and we have seen the needs grow: more families are having a hard time paying their bills, the lines at the food bank are longer, more parents are having a hard time paying for child care.
While it is a difficult time, this is also an opportunity. As times are tougher, we must come together and support our neighbors through philanthropy, showing our love for this community by giving in any way that we can.
Throughout my life, I have given back to Greater Austin because I believe that our community will thrive when all people have the opportunity to thrive. I am thankful for those who have joined me in these efforts, for the resolve of our neighbors and friends that our community is a worthy investment.
Please watch a news segment on Giving Tuesday on our local Fox station.