Practicing what we preach
Philanthropy is a great drug.Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, says people typically use three strategies to chase happiness: pursuing pleasure, engaging in personally meaningful actions, and performing service to something larger than themselves. His research, though, found that only two strategies work: It is through participating in personally meaningful actions and service above self, that true happiness is achieved.Every day of the year staff and volunteers at Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation talk with kind and loving people about the importance of “giving back” and “investing in our community.” And we walk our talk.Personally meaningful actionsI received a call on my cell phone one evening a couple of years ago. The caller was a Lahontan resident whose permanent home is in Colorado. He called with a simple question on how to make out a check. What I remember most from the conversation was him saying, “I’m sitting here with a glass of wine writing checks for charities. It’s one of my favorite things to do.”Now I follow his example. I find a quiet time between Christmas and the New Year to sit down and reflect on the past year. I think of struggles, joys, and “unique experiences.” I feel blessed. From that sense of blessing and a place of abundance, I make donations. Last year I sent donations to two organizations in memory of people who made a difference in my life. Then I wrote my last check to Gifts for Good – that’s the program sponsored by the Sierra Sun and Tahoe World through Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. Donations to Gifts for Good are combined with those from hundreds of other people and are awarded to local nonprofit organizations that apply for grants to the community foundation. It’s an easy way to give to all those organizations I care about but can’t afford to support individually.Service above selfThere are people in this community who need and depend on the generosity of this community for their very survival. In various ways throughout the year, TTCF staff takes time to feel and touch what’s going on in the community.Most recently, we volunteered to wrap presents for Community Christmas. It is through direct, hands-on work that we keep focused on why we do the hard work of raising money and stewarding donations to nonprofit organizations. Service changes us; it puts us in touch with our humanity and the humanity of those we serve. To stand face-to-face with someone in need, or someone whose life has gone awry reminds us that a very thin line separates us from them. Yet, that act of giving of our time, talent and resources brings the happiness of receiving more than we give.My resolution for 2006? Laugh more, grieve less, and seek happiness through service. Happy New Year.Lisa Dobey is CEO of Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. She can be reached at 587-1776 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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