In recent years, my 16-year-old son, Tripp, has grown to have a huge heart for the unhoused population. The sight of those who take shelter under a bridge or whose belongings are piled in a shopping cart next to the sidewalk stirs up tremendous emotion in him. Whether we are walking the streets of New York, heading to his long-term, follow-up oncology appointments or driving through Wichita, Kan. on our normal, daily schedule, “How can we help?” is a frequent question that arises.
This year we had a particularly hot summer in the Midwest. Tripp was concerned about what happens to people on days over 100 degrees when they do not have an air-conditioned home or cold water available. To try and settle his sensitive heart just a little, I asked if he wanted buy a few things to hand out. He eagerly said yes.
We finished with his speech therapy session and headed straight to the closest gas station. While browsing the aisles, in addition to cold water, he wanted to make sure and buy nourishing snacks to give away.
After we checked out, we noticed a woman with her dog huddled under a small tree to take advantage of a small bit of shade. She was his first recipient. We offered her a bag with the water and a small bag of nuts. She gratefully accepted and with a shaky voice offered a quick, “Thank you, and God bless.”
The sound of her voice broke my son. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he continued to ask me many mature and heart-wrenching questions as we drove around looking for a couple more people to help.
It was a very small investment of a few bottles of water and bags of nuts, but the power of philanthropy that was unleashed during that hot summer afternoon will stay with him—and me—for a lifetime.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Kinetic team, assisting nonprofits as they fulfill their important missions. Sometimes, it can be easy to get so focused on the tasks and to-dos of fundraising that we forget the end game. Without realizing it, Tripp reminded me.
One day, I would not be surprised to see him working in the nonprofit sector, caring for other others through heartfelt acts of service. His question: “How can we help?” was simple, yet profound; and it is one we all can return to whenever we need fresh motivation to unleash our own power of philanthropy.