My husband works for Habitat for Humanity in Newark, NJ. We'd both heard a lot of negative things about Newark but through his interest in real estate and his work at HH, he has witnessed the extreme dearth of development and lack of hope among many residents in this city. There was even a shooting right in his building but thankfully no one was killed.
But in early December, we both were present at an event that reminded me of why I love philanthropy and why I am committed to it. We participated in the dedication of houses for two local families right around the corner from the HH office. These families worked with Habitat and many volunteers for long hours to complete these houses that they recieved keys for that day. It was probably 30 degrees outside but a large crowd gathered to support the families and cheer them on as they cut the ribbon at the front doors. Afterward we congregated in a local church, eating food and singing Christmas carols. I got a chance to meet a few volunteers, talk to one of the families and just share in the excitement of a new chapter in the lives of these community members.
Were it not for philanthropy these houses would not have been built. And I'm not just talking about the money and corporate sponsorships. I'm also talking about the philanthropy of time--the hours and days committed through volunteerism to build these houses and work with the families. One of my favorite things about philanthropy is seeing the final "product" of the dollars and time given. The smiles on the families' faces just made my day and I recommitted myself to both my professional and personal work in philanthropy.
Happy New Year to everyone!