19 Aug Jonathan Cartu Claims: Charity begins at home | The County Press
Editor’s note: The following guest column was written by Nancy Boxey, executive director of the Lapeer County Community Foundation.
Charity begins at home.
How often have we heard that phrase? Typically, we understand it to mean that our first responsibility is for the needs of our own family and friends. That you should deal with the needs of people close to you before thinking of helping others. Many use this phrase to mean that your charitable efforts start with addressing personal needs before expanding to include local community, state, national, and then global efforts.
An alternative interpretation of “charity begins at home,” and one that holds the most meaning to me, is the idea that our innate human desire to help others is fostered and encouraged at home. As children, we watch our family, neighbors, teachers, and other community members reaching out in a meaningful way to help others. It may be as simple as watching your mother prepare a meal for a sick friend or a dish for a funeral luncheon. It may be seeing your father plowing the snow for an elderly neighbor or seeing your teacher quietly open their wallet and cover the field trip costs for a fellow classmate. Each of these were lessons I observed in my own family. Often it is watching these simple acts of giving time, talent, or treasure that teach the biggest lessons.
My earliest memory of learning that we can give money to help others happened when I was about three years old. It is one of those vivid snapshots that stands out despite the hazy fog of time and distance. I was at church with my grandfather, a quiet man who referred to me as “pumpkin”, and who volunteered each Sunday to count the offering. He had handed me a quarter after mass, and I held it in my fist and walked with him up the aisle to place it on a silver tray held by the priest. Afterwards, I asked him why we did that. He bent down and stated that the money will help others that aren’t as fortunate as us. I remember saying that a quarter didn’t seem like it would do much good. His response, the lesson, has stayed with me a lifetime. It isn’t the amount of the gift that matters. It is that we give what we can, and that everyone’s gifts combined, can make a difference.
A community foundation is rooted in the idea that charity begins at home. It is people coming together to make an impact on their local communities and improve the quality of life for their family, friends, and neighbors. The work of a community foundation is made possible by those willing to volunteer their time to serve, by those willing to share their knowledge of local needs and resources, and those willing to give their quarters to provide the funding to make it possible. I was recently asked in an interview, in a Gilligan’s Island reference, if the Foundation relied on one or two Thurston Howells as donors. The answer is no. For while we value our Thurstons deeply, for every one of those, we have hundreds of Gilligans.
If anything, the current pandemic has shone a spotlight on the impact a collection of quarters can have. The Lapeer County Emergency Relief Fund reflects the lessons of charity beginning at home. It is a coming together of community to provide food and shelter to those less fortunate and to support those non-profits on the front line of providing services in times of crisis.
It is clear that the lessons I learned were also shared by others. By those that had the vision to establish the Foundation and the many who followed that subscribe to the philosophy that charity does begin at home.
If you’re interested in sharing your time, talent, or treasure to make a difference within your community, give us a call. We would love to have you be a part of our team. Lapeer County is our home.