Philanthropy Isn’t Part Time

Jul 22
Alisha Glover, Senior Director
Dungarvin New Jersey
Stock Image: Helpful Heart

I pressed the button to the elevator to go upstairs. Same stuff, different day. I hear someone talking rather loudly on their cell phone; distorted, but loud nonetheless. As the voice got closer, it was apparent that there was a problem. Her tone was high-pitched, her cadence was rapidly firing. She needed something, was getting nothing and had the overall body language of someone who was reaching her peak. It was cold outside, a crisp March morning and NJ had received its 10th snowfall not too many days ago. She had on flip flops with bare feet and no jacket. Upon making that observation, the annoyance of a loud cell-phone talker had dissipated. I was now on another level of awareness and something else was taking over me.

The elevator arrived. I let her in ahead of me and took my position in the other corner. In our box of brief solitude, I knew the ride must have been an eternity for her. She rested her head against the elevator wall and muttered, “Lord, help me.” That level of awareness had now taken over me. It was no longer about my agenda. I could have heard and not heard, but I heard. I answered. A person of my personal convictions, I told her that “He can, He will.” She then began to release as the elevator did the same. Eye to eye, heart to heart she then began to regurgitate all that she was forced to swallow in the preceding days: “My house burned to the ground yesterday, I have no clothes, my two children have nothing, my granddaughter who lives with me after my daughter died a few years ago is faced with yet another life-altering crisis at just 7 years old, my husband is ill, we have no food, I don’t know how I’m going to pay for the hotel, insurance will take so long to help…” She told me she was in the building to see the doctor because she had no medication for herself and her husband; that had all burned too. She searched my eyes but she asked no questions. I told her to come see me when she was done. She did. I knew that she needed a life line. I tossed it to her. I asked if I could have her contact information and asked if I could share her story with my friends, my family at Dungarvin. Her eyes pleaded, but she asked no questions. She said yes.

I immediately sent a message to the management team, describing my experience. At our Administrative Team Meeting the next day, we talked about it. I was sure to make it clear that I was not soliciting but if anyone wanted to join me on a journey, so to speak, my raft was empty. I acted on the Dungarvin mantra, “Trust But Verify”. As a result, through the Dungarvin New Jersey management team and myself on a personal basis, food poured in, checks were written, cash was given. All for a family whom none of us knew at all, but who was somehow familiar. A piece of her lived in all of us.

Philanthropy, by Wikipedia’s terms, means “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing “what it is to be human”. Too many times what we set out to do as a community provider is misconstrued by negative stigma and media “microscopism”. In bridging the gap between our community and our company, who we are, what we represent, the name “Dungarvin” is sometimes all we have. Whatever our name is linked to is what we become. Whether it is for our consumers or our country, Philanthropy isn’t part time. It is the full time job of us all to work with diligence and integrity to make a positive difference in our homes, jobs, people we serve and communities at large.

In a few short days, a handful of us were able to provide a modest gift of $650 to the Lady in the Elevator- someone whom we did not know, but knew too well. Imagine if we all did that.

Stock Photo: Helping Hand

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  1. Donna Nunn,

    That story really touched my heart. If everyone could just listen to a persons’ heart when it’s crying out and not ignore it this would be a much better place. I don’t have much but there are so many less fortunate people that need a little help and not be looked down on.

    About five years ago myself , my family and a couple of friends were sitting around after opening gifts and eating dinner on Christmas day. We were all so happy discussing what all we had received that day that’s when I wondered how the homeless felt on Christmas. I said to them I don’t think too many people think about the homeless on Christmas Day so I suggested we look in our closets for clothes that were too small, too large and clothes that were not being worn anymore. We put together about five or six large trash bags of clothes, shoes and some nice business suits Howard hadn’t worn yet, jumped in the van and another car. The ideal was to go downtown looking for the homeless. We drove around for a while when we finally spotted a homeless person sitting on a corner. I guess that man and the police officer wondered what I was doing when I parked, grabbed some suits and ran across the street to him. I would just say Merry Christmas then run back to the van laughing and feeling good. I did that until everything was gone. Not wanting anything or expecting anything in return, I just wanted to make some people happy. The feeling was such an overwhelming gradifying feeling, we all had that same feeling that lasted the rest of the day. It was a feeling like no other one, this feeling is very different. Now it’s a tradition to collect clothes, shoes, toys, blankets, toothpaste, etc. and go looking for the homeless on Christmas day every year.

    I would say the moral behind this story and the other one is that if we can help someone we should and not look for anything in return because that feeling in enough.