One of the things that people always say is that givers get so much out of giving.
There’s no reason to doubt the truth of the dictum, but how do you quantify it? What does that mean, in real terms?
Now I know.
I hope you have been following the story of Marticia Jenkins on OnMilwaukee. She is the woman I gave a ride to a couple of weeks ago on a snowy March morning. The story of that ride spawned an incredible outpouring of generosity that will get a car for Marticia and her two children, Logan, 4 years old, and Olizianna, almost 1.
The driver of this engine was Kelly Evans Pfeifer, the daughter of one of my best friends and a big-time advertising person in San Francisco.
Here’s what I got out of this whole beautiful thing:
I retouched the life of Terry Evans, Kelly’s dad and my friend, who died unexpectedly in 2011. He was a Federal Appeals Court judge and my frequent golf partner. I loved him and am pretty sure he loved me and I miss him every day. At some point in his life, he was asked about his achievements, which were many.
"You never do anything just by yourself," he said. "I've gotten to where I am because of the people in my life who have taken an interest in me." I stopped playing golf when he died and I miss that almost as much as I miss him. It’s obvious that Kelly has his spirit and generous heart and doing this with her has put me back in touch with him. I am going to start playing golf again this summer.
I now have a clear and tangible understanding of the contrast between a handout and a hand up. I spoke with Marticia's boss at Taco Bell, and her favorite cousin, who lives in Raleigh, NC. Both of them talked about how hard Marticia worked and how she was always trying to improve life for her and her kids. They each spoke about how she was a woman who just needed a break to get her life back on track.
Marticia's boss said, "I hired her when she was homeless and living in a shelter. All she needs is a break." Her cousin, Donald Holden, called the gift "a blessing." He said "all of us in her family love her. This is going to make a better life for her, and for her children."
It was Kelly who defined one important aspect of this experience. "I regularly donate money to different groups and causes, but there's something incredibly rewarding about helping one person in a very particular way," she said. "Seeing how this all came together for Marticia, so quickly and with so many people's help, well, it's made my year."
With the developments of the past year, more and more people are donating to causes in which they believe. And while that is satisfying, doing something that makes a profound and specific difference for a particular person is an unmatched feeling.
OnMilwaukee recently published a piece about Kathy Mykleby, the Channel 12 anchor who has for 26 years done "Tuesday’s Child," a weekly feature story about a child who is in need of a big brother or big sister.
During the interview with Mykleby, she said she couldn’t find the words to "explain how much I get back from doing these stories with these kids. Nobody knows how it feels." I wasn’t sure what she meant by that comment then, but I do now.
In three days, 99 people who had never heard of Marticia Jenkins donated $4,903 in order to buy her a car, insurance, car seats and a gas card. Some of those nearly 100 people I know, many of them I don’t.
Kelly’s family, friends and colleagues; my family, friends and colleagues; a Republican friend who donated $100. Talk about a reaffirmation of your faith in the ultimate humanity of people that live in this community.
And finally, there is this email:
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.