Look for the helpers

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July 2019

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Mister Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Can you tell I recently caught the documentary about Fred Rogers? It was telling that they offered the quote above toward the end of the film—wanting to make sure that was the message left on the viewer’s mind.

I have been doing a series on generosity and gratitude in my reflections this year and the message to “look for the helpers” certainly fits. When Rogers offered this sentiment, he directed his message to children. From a child’s eye, they ought to look for “grown ups” who might help them when challenged with difficult situations.

The Center is fortunate to have “helpers” on many levels. Certainly the clinicians and staff who work with COOL (Children Overcoming Obstacles of Life) who directly serve kids in need of help. As with all of our counselors, the work is challenging but incredibly rewarding as we support clients on the path to healing and renewed hope.

This month I’d like to highlight a different kind of helping: those who work on our development team. We are celebrating a new hire in that department, Laurie Sloterdyk. Laurie comes to us with a wealth of fundraising experience and is well known in the philanthropic community of Des Moines. As the Director of Development, she’ll be working with Terri Speirs, who has been promoted to Director of Community Relations.  Many others on our team, but especially Allison Peet and Paige Kennedy support these efforts. So much of this work is relational and, dare I say, helpful.

As one who has spent years working in development, I firmly believe that this relational work is all about helping. Certainly, our generous donors are helping our clients by sharing with us the precious resources of time, talent and treasure. Without our donors, we could not live out this important mission. What isn’t noticed or discussed as often is how contributing to the Center also helps those who give. Much of our time in relating to donors is listening to their life stories and considering how they want to make a difference with their gifts. Philanthropy is really about discerning purpose and directing that energy into mutually beneficial efforts. Generosity and gratitude are all about building community and experiencing the fullness of life. Keep this in mind should you receive a call from Terri, Laurie or me.

I am grateful to be surrounded by such a talented staff and supporters who help—and are helped—by sharing in our mission of hope and healing.

Jim

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