I’ve just wrapped up one of the busiest times of the year for me at work, managing the distribution of grant awards to nonprofit organizations throughout Middlesex County. This experience reminded of a saying attributed to an unknown author, “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you know is fighting some kind of battle."
There are so many good people out there doing kind things for others, and more often than not we don’t hear about it. My experience as follows is just a glimpse of the “kindness” that we’re surrounded by every day.
This process started with us receiving a total of 48 grant requests this year. To help us evaluate these requests approximately 42 volunteers from throughout Middlesex County accompanied us on visits to the organizations that submitted these requests.
These volunteers helped us review programs that help youth reduce high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse by building their developmental assets; programs that work with parents, child care providers and teachers to ensure kids are school-ready; programs that work to prevent and end hunger and homelessness; and programs that help people become financially stable.
Staff members at these organizations are extremely busy providing services to those in need, and doing so more often than not with shrinking budgets. Knowing this one could think that our visits might be an inconvenience for them but I found the opposite to be true.
These extremely busy people were very accommodating with their schedules and their time. They welcomed us into their facilities, gave us tours, introduced us to other very busy staff members, and when possible introduced us to some of the recipients of their services, often referred to as clients.
While some of these clients shared how the services they received helped improve their lives, and in some cases may have even saved their lives, what was most impressive and inspirational was how they spoke of the staff who worked with them.
They referred to staff to as caring, as going above and beyond their jobs, working outside of their scheduled hours and taking time from their personal lives to help them. Some shared that regardless of their past choices and current circumstances the staff accepted them for who they were and treated them like “human beings." None of the clients indicated that they ever felt “let down”, acknowledging that they knew the staff were doing everything in their power (and beyond) to help them.
Those working in nonprofits, who go above and beyond as referenced above, deserve great praise for their efforts and for putting some of their own struggles (or battles) aside in their pursuit of what is often referred to as social justice. Also deserving of praise is the leadership of these organizations, those who promote and encourage this sense of service in their organization’s culture.
These amazing people showed me in our visits and through their work how to be kinder than necessary and are an example for all of us to do the same. My thanks to all of you!