The splendid challenges of giving

This article originally appeared at i711.com.

In the February issue of the Discovering Deaf Worlds newsletter, Christy Smith and Dave Justice write about meeting two tremendously inspirational men, including Takeaki Kawamura. Take tells of how he is grateful for every inconvenience in the world.

This giving spirit is also what fellow Minnesotan Cuong Nguyen discusses in his February 17 blog entry. He writes of how he volunteered to design a logo and newsletter template for the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens. He and I worked closely on that project, and what his friend said is right on – Cuong’s work would have easily cost MADC thousands of dollars had he not insisted on donating his brilliant services. I remember how, at a MADC board meeting, we all spent a good amount of time discussing Cuong’s amazing generosity. We felt our gift of a six-year membership was so lame, so pitiful compared to the revitalizing design he did for MADC. But as Cuong writes, it’s not about greediness; it’s about giving.

In May 2006, I wrote a piece, Apathy? Not Me! In fact, a friend mentioned it recently at a basketball game; he was appointed to a key board position for a local entity, and he was shocked at how many people declined this opportunity before he took it. As a result, he’s the only deaf person on this that oversees a deaf entity. He has his work cut out for him, but he won’t be alone; I’ll give in every way I can. And I hope others will, too.

A lot of people know is that giving your time or being part of something voluntarily is a lot of work. It’s certainly not easy. People also don’t always have the time, interest nor money (did you know that National Association of the Deaf board members, like many other nonprofits, donate their own flight fares, lodging and/or meals for every meeting?) – which is perfectly understandable. But giving isn’t necessarily about getting something in return such as money, personal gratification, recognition or contacts. Giving is about a sense of duty every individual should have.

Giving or volunteering can be as basic as joining an organization; the more members an organization has, the stronger its credibility and sustainability are. Giving can come in the form of hosting a lemonade stand and donating the money to an organization, like Paul and Suzy Rosen Singleton’s children did (Note: The link to this article is no longer active). Giving can be as basic as running errands for a friend or neighbor. Really, what giving means is the use of time – a precious commodity – to make others’ lives a little better. And the rewards – even if they aren’t the real purpose of giving – are immeasurable.

I want to give more on a local level. Although I already volunteer a bit locally and a lot on the state and national levels, I feel I don’t give enough. Now that I have a daughter who’s going to grow up in Faribault, this has become even more important. That’s one of the reasons this is my last column for i711.com. I’ll still write from time to time (my personal website will be up this spring), but my energy will be devoted to my company, my community and most importantly, my family. Together, these aspects of my life will somehow come together so that I can give more, a splendid challenge for me.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts the past three years, but more importantly, as Take says, “Thank you for the challenges.”

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