Spring is newsletter time in non-profit land, and I am the chief writer/editor/lay-er out-er of ours. Today I interviewed one of our supporters for a donor spotlight piece.
Last time I did this I profiled a major donor. In developmentese, that means a rich person who writes us big checks. This time I am using a guy who sends us $25 a month, every single month.
I called him at home, where he was babysitting his granddaughter. He told me how he got involved with our organization while doing a construction job on our back deck in the 90’s. He told me how he spent his breaks talking with our residents, and that he bought a Yahtzee set for a woman who lived in our facility because she’d told him she loved the game. He got choked up when he told me that she died shortly afterward.
Turns out he’s a disabled Vietnam vet on a fixed income. Most people who give have a list of organizations they support, but he sends money only to us.
Why us? I asked him.
“AIDS patients are the lepers of the 21st century,” he said. “People still think it’s a gay thing. They don’t know—don’t want to know it’s a world-wide pandemic.”
He went on, “I want my life to mean something. I’m turning 65 years old this year, and I don’t think I’m there yet. People don’t realize that the residents there are our brothers and sisters. They don’t understand that we’re all interconnected.”
“I just want my life to be meaningful,” he said again.
I know how he feels. That “why am I here on this earth” question plagues us all. Whole religions have been invented to relieve people of the existential discomfort posed by this question.
Would my life be less meaningful if I quit working for the do-gooder organization and got a soulless corporate job? Or would it be more meaningful because I would earn enough money to keep my kids in private school? Wait, that’s a whole ‘nother philosophical question. I’ll talk about that another day.
This man raised his kids, helps care for his grandchildren, served his country, and shares his limited resources with people in need. That sounds meaningful enough to me.