fəˈlanTHrəpē

The trajectory of my life changed in 2007.   It’s true.  I can pinpoint the exact moment the universe revealed my passion and purpose for existing on this planet.

In my case these are one in the same, and, as you can imagine, it was a lot to take in so unexpectedly.  But, I embraced the journey that unfolded and, to borrow from a remarkable poet, it has made all the difference.

In 2007 I became a student of philanthropy and, since then, have had the amazing privilege of learning at the feet of the most brilliant and benevolent — and humble — individuals one can imagine encountering.  These sentinels wake up each day determined to change entire systems that keep humanity from flourishing; and their countless efforts benefit us all.  (We should pause here to offer up a prayer of gratitude for all the ways in which our lives are enhanced by their actions without us really even knowing it.)  Future generations will thrive because of the commitments and sacrifices these heroes are making today.

As necessary as this work is, it is also important to remember the human element of philanthropy.  With close to 7 billion souls in the world, opportunities abound for us to connect with our friends, family, neighbors, strangers at the grocery store, the barista at our favorite coffee shop, and everyone we encounter, in real time and on an individual level. As Harper Lee taught us,

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his [or her] point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” {Atticus Finch}

So where am I going with this?

Regardless of the size of the gesture or the amount of money involved, when we take time to connect with our fellow humans – to listen and to understand their stories – something astonishing happens.  Oprah explains it perfectly…

So, while I continue to assist, learn from, and appreciate the noteworthy philanthropists working relentlessly to improve tomorrow, I personally find my best fit in helping today, at the individual level.  It may seem like a small drop in the vast ocean of need, but remember a little boy on a beach taught us the importance of making a difference one starfish at a time.

Live generously.