Guest blogger Barb Higgins poses with her mother, Joan.

Barb Higgins: My fundamental reason for giving

Guest blogger Barb Higgins poses with her mother, Joan.

Guest blogger Barb Higgins poses with her mother, Joan.

‘Tis the season to give. So why do we do it? Why do we give? And why do we choose one charity, such as United Way, over another?

I give for many reasons.

The biggest, or foundational reason I give, is because I learned about giving while growing up. I watched my mom, Joan Higgins, give much of her time and energy to anyone who needed her support. I grew up thinking volunteering is a part of life, just like going to work and eating a meal. It is a fundamental aspect of living a full and balanced life. As an adult, I have come to see that if we only take, we are thrown out of balance. In nature, all is a cycle. This cycle extends to philanthropy. If we receive, and all of us do in some way, then it is within us to give.

Before I give money or volunteer, I also think of the people who are receiving the gift. I think a lot about them. I wonder what their life is like in poverty. Or what it would be like not to graduate from high school. I try to put myself in their shoes. Taking the time to think about others, and giving back, gives me a sense of connection to my community. Sometimes I know the recipient – quite often I don’t – but by giving I feel a sense of compassion and connection. Reaching out is a way to let everyone feel they belong, whether they are the giver or the receiver. We are all connected.

And why do I give to United Way? There is one very specific reason: United Way is working on root causes. In the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” there’s a scene in which a massive boulder is chasing and threatening to crush Indiana Jones. I think many social issues are like that giant boulder. These issues are threatening to crush people in our community. United Way is working with other agencies, partners and government to stop the boulder, once and for all. Yes. United Way wants to stop the boulder from rolling.

That might seem like a big, hairy, audacious goal. It is. And what other goal would you set? In the words of Willian Hutchison Murray, “Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Why do you give back?