Sustainable Giving – I

It was the first trip that Jon and June had made to the family farm since they were married.  Jon’s aunt, Alice, and family friend, Jim, were the only family members left in the rural community where Jon’s mother was raised.  Jim, while not a biological member of the family, was family in every respect.  He had been raised by Alice when he was abandoned by his parents.

Neither Alice nor Jim had much money, so Jon and June had no expectations of a wedding present, but they were surprised.  After spending a weekend on the farm, Jon and June were getting ready to depart when Jim said:  “We have a present for you.”  As he stepped aside, he handed them a small maple tree sapling.  The sapling was from Jon’s favorite part of the farm.

When they returned home, Jon planted the sapling in their back yard.  For years, the sapling seemed like it would never grow into a tree, but Jon and June never gave up hope.  After 10 years, the sapling had begun to show promise as a tree.  After 20 years, the tree was fully developed, and it was spectacular.  The foliage in the fall was marvelous, but the true value of the tree was the shade that it provided in the summer.  In fact, the tree became a neighborhood gathering place on hot summer days (see attached).

As Jon and June reflected back on their 50th wedding anniversary, they couldn’t recall any other wedding gift other than the maple sapling.

What matters in giving is the sustainability of a gift.  While a maple sapling may not be valued by everyone, think about other sustainable gifts you can give.  How might we develop a society that encourages sustainable giving as a value shared by all citizens?  How can we change our concept of giving from monetary value to sustainable value?  How can we shift giving from satisfying current needs to one that has more of a future focus?

As you think about sustainable giving, imagine how you might give of your time as a mentor, advocate, trainer, or with your emotional support.

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“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  – Winston Churchill


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