The Gifts We Give

Jeffrey Mizell, Business Administrator 

I walked into the offices of my Senate representatives, of my congresswoman, and into countless more offices of elected officials outside of my district. As the Program Manager of Washington, DC, operations for a global humanitarian organization it was my role to represent and advocate our organization’s policy recommendations to our elected officials. I was lucky, as my organization was well-known, I garnered a face-to-face meeting with most of the officials.

My testimony was well-researched, reasoned, and spoken. Each member of congress with whom I spoke applauded our work. What an accomplishment, they said. Our request was quite simple: fund two programs for child and maternal health and education for women and girls in developing nations. Though it was indeed fine work that we had undertaken, they told us that now was not a good time to fight for funding these programs. Maybe in the next Congress. Defeated and deflated, I hopped back on the Metro and took it to the very last stop in Virginia where I lived.

Our organization was supported nearly entirely by individual donations and volunteers.  Just a few days after my unsuccessful trip to the Capitol, I hosted an event at a church in McLean, Virginia, where more than 1,500 volunteers gathered over two days to create more than 300,000 meals for humanitarian relief in developing nations. Their donation included countless volunteer hours of donated time, and more than $80,000. Not long after that meal packaging event, Hurricane Matthew ravaged the island of Haiti. Within one week, my organization had airlifted more than 2 million humanitarian meals into Haiti. Every one of those 300,000 meals packed by those volunteers at that church in McLean were delivered to people in desperate need of them.

This is the impact that committed and passionate individuals can have on the world. Often, we think of ourselves in a small community bubble, our sphere of influence extremely limited. Walking into the Capitol offices, I felt like I was on a cloud – like I could walk out having made a tangible difference in the world. I left feeling the opposite – like my hard work was all for naught.

Alone, perhaps, our impact can be limited. However, when we join together with our community, we can have the almost unlimited potential to have a real impact in our world. The impact of receiving a warm meal after your homes were destroyed.

This is why we give. The gift we give – no matter their size – are one way of joining, hand-in-hand, with likeminded individuals of our community to have an impact greater than our individual efforts may allow.

While I have only been working at Foothills for a short time, I have witnessed time and time again, how this is already and can continue to be community that affects real change in our world.  This is what the city of Fort Collins saw in us when they awarded us the 2018 Fort Collins Human Relations Award, recognizing how we have embodied a spirit of inclusiveness, giving and altruism that has made Fort Collins into a better place for all people to live.

This is especially true when each of us bringing our passions, hopes, dreams, and resources to the table.

This award is a direct reflection of the gifts that each member brings to this community. We have joined together, let’s make a positive impact on our world together.

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