I was recently offered the opportunity to speak about the work of Pastor Harvey Davis, an amazing man who compels action. With no difficulty, I can measure what matters to him and articulate why it needs to matter to us. After seeing families who did not have the means to provide for themselves in 1999, Pastor Harvey put out a call to action. He started a financial program at KenCrest, now referred to as the Pastor Harvey Family Fund. The fund occurs each December and raises support in the forms of cash, gift cards, and gifts for families of our Early Learning Centers and Early Intervention programs. It is both an honor and a privilege to review the needs of these families and be able to meet those requests, which vary from family to family.
The needs and dreams of families vary and I am struck by the fact that although the drive occurs during the Hanukkah and Christmas seasons, it is not all about toys. Rather, it is geared toward warm winter attire: coats, boots, hats, and gloves. As well as cleaning supplies, pots and pans, and more. We can count over 12,000 people whose needs were met by the fund since it began. And we can share the stories of the families who are grateful. We can also count the number of staff and volunteers it takes to make this drive happen every year.
We have some amazing stories about why the fund matters to us as staff and why it matters to the person who received our support. Here is one of those stories from a staff member on our Early Intervention Services team:
Every year around the holidays, I adopt a family from my caseload who is in need. I have a soft spot in my heart for immigrant families, as my husband is a first generation American and I know how hard they worked to establish themselves here in the US. I frequently supplement what I give to these families with the family fund through Ken Crest. I always work to honor our families and be culturally sensitive to them and frequently will share information on “buy nothing” Facebook groups and other community resources in their neighborhoods so that they can access things that they need. This goes along with my strong held belief in the “fish” proverb: You give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. A couple days after I gave gifts, I received a text from the mother of the family who refers to me as “mom”: Hi mom, I can’t thank you enough. We feel so loved by you, never have we felt such love of an American since we came. May God bless you and grant you all your heart desires. You will reap the fruits of your labor. You will live to see your generations. Thanks again and God bless you. We love you, love (name withheld for privacy sake). This was the most beautiful message I have ever been sent.
As human beings, we tend to talk in emotion-rich sentences, often with judgmental tones. We use language like the program is huge or the need is great. We add statements like “enough” or “not enough.” In using these statements which measure — too little, too much, etc., we are missing an opportunity to see something in a size we can address.
No one person will ever achieve the outcome we as a society would want all by themselves. We want no person to be homeless. We want no child to be hungry. We want no person to be excluded from life’s opportunities. These are all worthy goals. Each of us is called to take on one or more of these life challenges. As we take on whatever need meets our life’s purpose, our WHY, let’s be clear about how far we have traveled…exactly how much have we contributed. Once we add up these individual and team contributions, we will see the change we want to make in the world.
We need to explain the numbers with the WHY. That is where the emotion matters. The family in the story today is expressing the value of the support. This gift was more than the items…it was the hope that was stirred up, the feeling of belonging which provides the energy to face the inevitable next challenges in their lives. In the end, the change is the sum of the one — each story, each life that was touched, each person who feels that they can now carry on.
As others see what we have done, they too many be inspired to add more. The limit of what we can achieve is unknown. So let’s measure and tell others in numbers and in stories just what we offer from our giftedness to the world in need.