giving and getting

I listen to public radio a lot; it’s an engaging companion when I’m doing household tasks that need to get done. WNYC, my local station, just finished their annual pledge drive. I donate a modest sum for all that good listening. Yet I find the constant asking for money interrupting my favorite programs so annoying, even as I realize it’s essential to get needed funds to keep operating.

I often feel like that pledge drive: constantly asking for assistance to keep on going. Seeking help for V, asking for support for the programs he uses, being a taker far more than a giver. 

I thought of this during T’s time away visiting B, in which my sister and brother-in-law came down to help for the weekend, a kind and generous act. It was so wonderful to have them here to help alleviate the isolation and exhaustion of caregiving.  Yet I get frustrated that I am so often in the position of needing, of taking people up on their offers to help, with no opportunity to reciprocate.

We ask for support for organizations that help V. I do research and make calls seeking respite and home therapy.  As CEO of V Enterprises, it is a one sided equation of relying on the kindness of strangers, friends and family, of always being in need. I don’t like being in this position.

If our home life was different, if I didn’t have so many responsibilities that take up time and money and energy, I would do more to help others. I would have made a great rich person. I’d be a gracious host, I’d donate much of my money – the point of having excess, if I ever were in that position, would be to share as magnanimously as possible.

 I love helping others, it’s something I used to do when I was a funder and consultant working for those with big coffers. I spent years helping to allocate funds from private foundations and public agencies, and yes it’s fun to have access to lots of money that goes to worthy causes. Having also been a seeker of funding for various nonprofits I can say without a doubt it’s far more enjoyable to give than to ask for support.

Now I give donations to organizations I care about but I don’t give in any big way.  I don’t have economic or social capital, connections, I’m not aligned or adjacent with those in power, a much better place than feeling powerless and vulnerable. 

I’m on the board of a new organization affiliated with V’s school that is developing services for young adults 21 and over (he’ll be there in February), in charge of fundraising but I don’t want to be in that role; I’m so tired of seeking support.  

Of course I realize circumstances change: people get sick or hurt, have responsibilities thrust on them, are weakened or diminished in what they can do for themselves let alone others. And situations can change for the better too. The fact is I’ll never be rich and likely never will get to work again with those who are. But I like to think someday V will finally get the services he needs and I’ll at least be in a better position to give rather than get, to be the generous one rather than the recipient of others’ largesse. 

For now I’m simply flooded with gratitude for whatever support we can get. Rich not in money but in feelings of appreciation for whatever kindness comes my way. For now that has to be enough.

2 thoughts on “giving and getting

  1. J, you don’t take more than you give. You give constantly. You are one of the most selfless people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.


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