I’ve completed my training as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine! Next I face the challenge of creating a practice that will place Nature’s medicine into the world. At this juncture, though, I am moved to stop and recognize all the blessings I have received – still receive – that have enabled me to come this far. In that spirit, I’ve decided to dedicate the first dollars I earn as a doctor to charity.
There is an organization called Modest Needs whose work has captured my heart. Modest Needs serves people in financial emergencies for whom a specific dollar amount given today can mean the difference between safety and eviction, between obtaining medical care or not, or between food and hunger. A beautiful feature of this organization is that givers can log on at www.modestneeds.org and review the applicants’ requests for assistance in their own words. You will see the total dollar amount needed and how much has been raised to date. You can view the applications by type or length of time outstanding. All applications have been prescreened for legitimacy: the organization’s data tracking shows that the vast majority of donors have made only one request, during a true emergency. It also shows that many of the recipients, grateful for the help they received in their need, have become subsequent donors.
I’ve reflected on why this organization’s work so touches me. I very much like the setup, in which each giver can choose the particular recipient and cause that will receive his or her donation, and that 100% of each donation is applied to the selected application (there are separate opportunities to fund the organization’s administrative costs, for givers so inspired). Perhaps it reminds me of when I was 15 and we nearly lost my Dad in an automobile accident, which could have cost me my college education and even the family’s sustenance had he not been fortunate enough to survive. Or perhaps it reminds me of my Dad himself. After he survived that accident, he lived a life exemplary for its celebration of each day and moment. There was no wasted time, no insignificant human interaction. When I organized his records after he passed away, I found pages upon pages of charitable donations, most to small charities. Every worthy cause was significant to him and moved him to action. Raised to be fiercely independent, he would have understood what it takes for the Modest Needs applicants to swallow their pride and seek the support they need to get by.
So when I asked my friends and family to join me in counting our blessings, how moved I was when their offerings, added to mine, totaled nearly $2800. These funds covered the needs of nine Modest Needs families, keeping them from slipping into poverty in these hard economic times. There are really no words to describe the joy I felt when, one by one, I received thank you notes from each of the nine families – yes, all of them – letting me know what a difference we made.
I wish all who read this the blessing of being unafraid to ask for the support you need, the blessing of living as your largest selves, the blessing of appreciating the abundance in every person and every moment.