This week my family buried my maternal grandmother. As I reflect upon her life and her influence in mine, several things come to mind, from amazing homemade banana pudding to cheesy CBS crime dramas.
But standing alone in my sea of memories is the fact that my Nana introduced me to the ideas of philanthropy, volunteering, and nonprofit engagement.
I should start by saying that my grandmother wasn’t a woman of means by any stretch of the imagination; she shopped using coupons at the local JC Penney, and she always bought whatever coffee was on sale, even if it was canned. She lived on the not-so-nice side of town, and my grandparents shared a car for as long as I can remember. They didn’t have computers or cell phones, but they always made do.
Limited resources didn’t deter their generosity: in my head I can count at least ten nonprofit organizations my grandparents supported. My grandmother volunteered as the treasurer for two nonprofits, managing their checkbook and financials until the Alzheimer’s kicked in. My grandfather fixed cars for strangers in his garage on the weekends, and together they volunteered with their church and in the community.
She was a member of the Eastern Star, which promotes educational and charitable work, and she would help people out in any way she could.
She did big things with little resources, something we should all strive to do.