The Holiday Spirit Should Endure
This past week we've been getting ready to host family for the holidays. It's such a joy to have the people we love into our home. My two year-old son is, of all the things happening this week, most excited about lots of time with Nanna and Nonno. We'll be comfortable, surrounded by warmth, family, and happiness. It's so special.
In preparing for the week, I was at a Dunkin Donuts stocking up on coffee. In line in front of me was an older homeless man who, in the most basic of ways, was struggling - to speak, to stand, to be. I was struck by this man. Most of the service staff was eager to help him, though worried about the line stacking up behind him. Me? I couldn't help but wonder what he'd pick.
He picked a frozen drink. It was freezing outside. Why? "Because they get me full." Indeed. All those sugar calories probably do for a short time.
I simply couldn't abide. I said to the cashier, "please restart this man's order and add it to my own." The man and I spoke for a minute or so and the patrons behind me were patient and kind in waiting. The man ordered a more complete meal with a couple of sandwiches, coffee, water, and some other items. It couldn't have added up to more than $15. And then we hugged. Writing this now I'm struggling not to tear up. If there's anything I'm dealing with since then is that I did so little.
What can we take from this moment? A lot of things, of course, but here's the one I think we can really do something with: that spirit can inform all our work. We're pursuing financial goals and, yes, metrics allow us to optimize how we operate. However, when we live as the voice of our school's heart we can soar above our goals.
If I caught you in an elevator and asked you why I should donate, what would you tell me? Would it be about last year's participation rate and how we really can get over that bar this year or would it be the story of the first generation student who is changing her and her family's future thanks to an alumni-funded scholarship?
I can tell you which one has me asking to open my checkbook.
How are you finding and sharing the heart of your institution in a constructive AND emotionally potent way?
Happy holidays from all of us at QuadWrangle to you and yours and may the spirit of this season endure with you and in your work this coming year.