Who benefits?

I got a phone call about 3 weeks ago. Seems Juanita, an older member of the non-profit I currently lead, is ill. I knew she’d had surgery recently; we put get well soon wishes in our monthly newsletter and sent a donation card. But now, as the somewhat gruff member who called me told me, the woman was in need of much more medical care. And unfortunately, Medicare won’t be covering much.

Stepping back a second, I need to tell you that this woman has been a member for quite some time. The organization is a Jewish group, and this woman is not Jewish. Sure we have some non-Jewish members, but this woman? She’s amazing. She volunteers for real jobs – gift wrap, yard sale. Consistently. She posts at all the big events. And even some of the smaller ones.

The first time I met her, I admit I was surprised she was a member of NCJW. Here she was, 70-something African American woman. Quick with a smile, she introduced herself to me. It was at one of our yearly yard sales. Realizing she knew everyone (and I mean everyone!), I started figuring out she had been around.

And it seems she knows everyone at the local Kiwanis, local community association…pretty much everyone. She even hangs out in the shopping center near the rougher middle school to make sure the youths don’t get into trouble before and after school. This woman volunteers for everything. She helps people. Apparently, it’s been her full time job.

So when Ruby called me to tell me that she and some other friends were putting on a fundraiser to help Juanita, I told her I’d do my part to get the word out.

So I did. I sent an email out to the membership. I had it included in the monthly newsletter. Blah blah blah.

And the event was Saturday night. And I went.

Tears filled my eyes as I walked into Kahler Hall. The room was filled – seriously filled – with people. All ages. All races. All for Juanita.

There was food that was donated. Wine, beer, water, soda. All donated. A silent auction. (of course, all donated items) Music was playing. People were laughing.

I asked Juanita how she was feeling. And she said “Never better.” She said that feeling this loved made her heart want to burst.

By the end of the evening, I hear that over $5,000 had been raised for Juanita’s medical expenses and that they expect more to come in.

This is my community. I’m so proud to be a part of it.

All those times I grumble to myself that people are so caught up in themselves. That no one gives a damn about anyone but themselves. All those times. And to think, I was wrong.

This blew me away.

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