Community matters: Reflections and resolutions on giving back |

Community matters: Reflections and resolutions on giving back

Aren’t you glad it’s a new year?

Last year we witnessed some of the worst that mankind and Mother Nature have to offer. Earthquakes, tsunamis, the war in Iraq, and children held hostage in Chechnya. Almost makes shoveling snow a positive experience.

We’ve also witnessed and experienced some of the best of humanity ” people the world over reaching out to support victims in South Asia, the Athens Olympics conducted free of violence, and a report issued stating that countries moving toward more freedom have outpaced countries moving away from freedom by three to one.

As with each new year we have the opportunity to consider what we can do to reduce the impacts of the worst things that happen and to support positive things that make a stronger world.

Philanthropy is a powerful force. What the government is often unable (or in some cases unwilling) to make happen, private dollars and the power of the people behind those dollars can. I also happen to think it works better. It probably comes from growing up in Texas where very little works without private philanthropy.

And it happens here in our own region.

Are you passionate about hiking? Put your philanthropic dollars with Truckee Trails Foundation, the Tahoe Rim Trail, or Truckee Donner Land Trust. Are you passionate about making sure the people who live in our environment are healthy and successful? Put your charitable gifts with Wellspring Counseling, Sierra Nevada Children’s Services, or Workforce Housing Association of Truckee Tahoe. Care about the state of education in our region? Give to support Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation or your neighborhood PTO.

Marketing professionals talk about the importance of having an elevator speech. They say you are supposed to be able to tell what your business does in the length of time it takes to ride an elevator. Here in Tahoe we call it a chair lift speech.

My chair lift speech for Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation starts off with showing a list of all the grants TTCF has made. Then I say “When you look at this list, you should see organizations that you would give every last dime you have to support their work. You should also see organizations that you wouldn’t give a penny to support. As a community foundation, that means we are doing our job.”

Since our community does not speak with one voice, neither should the region’s community foundation. Donors seek a variety of strategies to achieve the end results of a strong and vibrant community.

It’s a fun thing to participate in, this thing called philanthropy. Thousands of people running off in thousands of directions supporting the issues, projects, and activities they believe are transformational. It’s chaotic, but it works. It reminds me of watching first graders play soccer ” or swarmball, to more accurately describe it. Kids run every way under the sun, sometimes working together and sometimes not. But once in a while, someone makes a goal and we all stand up and cheer.

We’re all on this same earth field and sometimes we work together to make good things happen and sometimes we strike out on our own. I hope you make New Year’s resolutions. I hope some of your resolutions include giving back to Truckee-North Tahoe, and to the larger community of humankind.

Lisa Dobey is CEO of the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. Reach her at 587-1776 or

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