Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Charity, giving and helping others are values that have made America great.  Those who give more in terms of money and time tend to be happier than those who don’t, writes Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, in “Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide Who Gives, Who Doesn’t and Why it Matters.” 

The importance of public service has provided the impetus that led to the passage this week of two bills: the Serve America Act in the Senate and the Generations Invigorating Volunteering and Education Act, or GIVE, in the House.  Their stated goal: more public service. But their outcome will be - more government intrusion and more government jobs. 

“Let us be clear,” writes Brooks, “Government spending is not charity.  It is not voluntary sacrifice by individuals.  No matter how beneficial or humane it might be, no matter how necessary it is for providing for public services, it is still the obligatory redistribution of tax revenues.”  Those of us who pay taxes know all too well that our payments are required and that, while we have elected officials who are responsible for distributing our tax dollars, we often don’t know where the money goes or don’t agree with how our tax dollars are spent.

This past week, at a dinner for Kate’s Club, a non-profit organization that empowers children and teens facing life after the death of a parent of sibling, I was reminded of the importance of passion, involvement and personal commitment in volunteer organizations. 

When she was 12, Kate Atwood lost her mother.  Inspired to help others through their grieving process, Kate founded Kate’s Club in 2003.  The effect of Kate’s Club is best told by those have been helped. Shaina Pittman, a Kate’s Club participant wrote, “Ms.Kate told us that just because we lost a loved one doesn’t mean we are alone or that we are any different from other kids, that we are special, and that just because that one tragic thing happened doesn’t mean we have to be sad all of the time. I loved that saying. I knew that I would always remember that.”

This kind of interaction represents the core of charity – one person helping another based on one person’s passions and another person’s needs.  This wonderful organization operates from money and time donated by “corporations, private foundations and individual donors,” according to the Kate’s Club’s website.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.