It happened several times before I left on a trip recently. Visiting with friends the subject of vacation would inevitably come up leading to my answer that I would be going to Orlando on Memorial Day. It was met with smiles and comments like “what fun…., we had a great time when we were there….or which parks are you going to?”
The look on their face was priceless each time when I replied I would be making site visits for a family foundation. I was going to work, not play. It caught everyone off guard.
I visited seven organizations I knew very little about. I met an adviser of the foundation who lives in the Orlando area who knew a great deal about each organization. Over two days we spent an hour or so with each one. We asked questions, met staff and clients and took tours.
It was certainly not the vacation trip my friends expected. My postcard would not be signed “Having fun in the sun!”
From Shamu and Mickey Mouse to Shrek, Hogwarts and Legos – with so much fun to be had how could there be homeless and hunger, cancer, brain-damaged children or wounded warriors?
It is not unusual to be reminded of what I already know. Here are just a few reminders that occurred on this trip.
- Questions build bridges. Asking questions helps me as much as it does the organization – I become more informed and they learn what an informed donor needs to know.
- There is strength in numbers – two people asking questions are better than one. It gives me time to process while my buddy asks a question. Several times I hadn’t thought to ask that one.
- The human condition, and everything that makes it difficult, challenging and just down right hard, exists in every hometown USA. From my home to the most fun vacation destinations, I just have to be willing to look.
- I can make a difference no matter where I find myself, no need to travel.
- My donation is important whether it’s $50, $100 or $100,000.
- No matter where I am there is work to be done and there is work I must do.
On this trip, I was reminded that a picture is worth a thousand words on the street or a postcard.
On the second day, we headed to downtown to visit the Christian Service Center for Central Florida. I like big cities and enjoy looking at architecture. I’m always fascinated by how tall buildings rub up against even taller buildings. Lost in my study of the cityscape I was suddenly yanked into the hard reality of homelessness as we turned down a street beside our destination. On both sides of the street – leaning against the chain-link fence, propped up against trash cans, sitting abjectly on the edge of the curb- more than a dozen men watched us drive by in our SUV. Big city homelessness.
It hit me that back at home if I head downtown and go north I might see a similar picture under the railroad overpass. Small town homelessness.
My Biggest Reminder
Whatever difference you want to make in the world you can probably start right at home. If you want to tackle that issue on a larger scale what you learn starting at home will make you smarter as you expand to larger fields, more cities or larger cities.
Where to Start….
Ask this question: If you could change anything in the world what would it be? Then look around your own neighborhood and city to see where it is hiding. Get a buddy and start there.
What would you change?