Raising Givers is Not a Spectator Sport
Recently, my husband and I were chatting with some friends after dinner. We were all sharing stories about our parents. My husband and Start A Snowball Co-Founder, Mac Winslow, was telling funny stories about his father and his family medicine practice in a small town in NC. Mac’s father was one of a small handful doctors in the town where they lived. His dad made house calls and also received patients at his own home. Mac laughs when he talks about how whenever they went out to eat, his father always ended up seeing someone who began with “Dr. Winslow, could you look at this…” and would write a prescription for what they needed on whatever scrap of paper he could find (whether it was a receipt, a scrap of a paper bag, or a napkin). His father never complained about this. He just treated his patients, many times never receiving payment for his services. The stories were funny, but led Mac and I to reflect on the generous nature of our parents and grandparents, and if they knew they were raising givers.
Mac’s grandfather recently passed away. At his funeral, we heard countless stories of all the things that his grandfather did around the community, especially at church. He grew a “garden” that was big enough to feed most neighbors and he and Mac’s grandmother hosted a Sunday dinner each week that did in fact feed most neighbors and the pastor from church. Mac has hardly any memories of his grandparents that don’t involve helping someone else.
My grandmother was a beautician and owned her own salon. She never graduated from high school, but eventually taught herself enough to become a licensed realtor. She spent her free time, though, doing hair at a nursing home. When I stayed with her in the summer, she was always busy doing something to help a friend, neighbor or family member. My parents share a similar sense of duty to help those around them. Growing up, there was often a family member or friend staying at our house. It was so normal to me that it was strange for me when I was a teenager and realized that most families don’t host people in need. My parents were often dragging us off to help volunteer at whatever community event was going on or to plant trees and bushes at the local schools. The drive to my son’s elementary school (which is also the school I attended) is lined with beautiful Bradford pear trees that were planted by my own parents. My Dad is in his seventies, but can still be found on any given Saturday helping someone move.
These are the memories that Mac and I share of our parents and grandparents…countless stories of their generosity. Perhaps that was ultimately drew us together. We grew up very differently. He grew up in a small town, but I grew up in the “city”. Our parents have different occupations and political affiliations. We came from similar backgrounds, though, because we both came from families that believe very strongly in service, in helping those in need, and raising givers. We share a desire to teach our children the same and to raise them to be generous and kind. We believe that most children share a desire to help. They want to help their peers, their elders, and their communities. They just need encouragement and support. They need to understand that they CAN make a difference. That’s why we founded Start A Snowball, because we believe that we can help build the next generation of givers.
When you think back on your family’s legacy, what do you remember? What do you want your children to remember?
Blythe Clifford, Co-Founder
Start A Snowball