This time of year it isn’t uncommon for me to present at several different businesses in a single day. I stand, side by side, with representatives from partner agencies and have the privilege of hearing their success stories. I am reminded daily, through their stories, why I’ve chosen this career path. Very often I’m hearing stories for the first time, just like the employees we’re presenting to. As I listen, sometimes I feel that “cry lump” develop in my throat. I sit and wonder how I will make it through my portion of the presentation without crying. For anyone who knows me, you know I don’t always accomplish this. Today was one of those days.
I can’t tell you exactly what was so different about this meeting or why I left with tears in my eyes. I wasn’t sad, it was the opposite. I left with a heart so full it brought me to tears. Driving back to the office, I found myself thinking about miracles. I used to think the miracles in my line of work were in our outcomes; in all of those success stories I get to hear and share. I’m not wrong, of course there are miracles woven into every service number and success story.
Today, I found myself thinking about how many separate miracles occur before we get to the ones everyone talks about. We think of miracles as extraordinary events or divine intervention. Of course I believe in miracles, right? I’m in the business of hope and changing lives. (Let me clarify, “we” don’t change their lives, they change their lives.) I’m here because I want the best for people. I want for every person, the opportunity to live a good life, a life they are proud of. People are my passion; I can’t narrow it down to a specific demographic, trust me, I’ve tried. I think that’s why I ended up at United Way, I didn’t have to choose, I got an all-inclusive pass.
Miracles come in all shapes and sizes and they look different for all of us. For those we serve, miracles may come in the form of a hot meal, or a warm, safe place to sleep. A volunteer, covering you with a blanket and holding your hand as you watch your world quite literally go up in flames, they surely are a miracle. Maybe your miracle is a volunteer advocate, who stands by your side and helps you find your courage after you’ve been the victim of a crime. For some, their miracle is simply a pair of shoes that fit and clothes that are clean.
My miracle, the miracle of fundraising, is you. You decide to fill out that pledge form every year. That is an incredible gift, regardless of the amount. Please hear me, you are the miracle for someone in this community.
A line worker, with duct tape holding the sole of his shoe together, handing me a pledge form…wishing he could do more. Miracle.
Someone who is willing to stand in front of their peers and share their story in an effort to pay forward the help they’ve received in the past. Miracle.
For the person who makes just enough to get by but still decides they have enough to share. Miracle.
It matters. It all matters. Everything we do on our path to help someone is a miracle.
What I realized today, sitting in that meeting, is that so much of what we do can’t be measured in dollars and cents or service numbers. Numbers are necessary and they are important, but this work is about people.
I hope you know how valued you are. Whatever you are doing to help, regardless of your gift amount, regardless of your circumstance, I thank you! You are going to make someone’s life better. That’s your miracle, and theirs; Find a miracle in every day.
There is “good news” out there. We just have to see it. Thank you for allowing me to witness what is still good and right in this world.
Shred by Stephanie Pape
Director of Resource Development