Dear Patient Reader,

My daily attire turned to semi-formal black as I hopped into my modern-day pumpkin (The Commuter Rail into Boston) to attend the event of a lifetime.

When I started a new career three years ago, I never dreamed that I would be attending a five-star semi-formal Gala fundraising event honoring the organization I volunteered with and my team for its contribution to RESPOND’s fight against Domestic Violence.

I have spent my life seeking to contribute to the world in some way quite often it is on the bus to the people I meet – the mother needing help with her baby carriage and babies, the old people who have a hard time finding the bus, the woman late to her appointment to see her children who needs to put in a phone call, the homeless I knit for so they don’t lose toes to frostbite…

I had been frustrated by my own personal lack of resources to start some organization to better help those around me. I often have more vision and dreams than I can possibly see become reality.

I do these things out of a genuine compassion for humanity. In spite of the days when I am tired, aggravated, frustrated, disgusted and angry; I remember that I have my faults as well. I know that if I met a stranger on the wrong day, they would dislike me very much indeed.

I do good never expecting reward or recognition. It is unexpected and overwhelming if it comes. What is particularly satisfying is the knowledge that this has come as a result of hard work, perseverance, ethics and character. I have been on the receiving end of name-calling – “sucker!”, “gullible!”. Sometimes people think I am naive and when I realize what the world is really like I will “wise up”. I have news for my critics – I am well aware of the nature of the human race and my position has been validated.

A good friend of mine, Russell Carle, holds the position that we are always in need of each other’s grace. Undeserved, unasked-for forgiveness. I believe in the “scandal of grace” as coined by Philip Yancey in his book “What’s So Amazing about Grace?”. Grace is a form of generosity to those who don’t deserve it. Grace, by its very definition is undeserved. Sensible people are scandalized by the grace I offer. Don’t I know the kind of people I am helping?? The drunks, the drug users, the thieves, and sluts – The undeserving because of what they have done and what they are doing.

I know how painful it is to be in need of grace and to have it denied. I also know how healing grace can be when it is sorely needed and freely given. I have not lived the first half of my life isolated from humanity. I am well aware of all the failings of the human race. I scandalously engage in grace on a daily basis. It is my personal form of revenge towards the unforgiving, the snobs and the opportunists who take advantage of others.

In a bit of a dream-state I took in the evening at the Boston Harbor Hotel. It was a beautiful setting with beautiful people and elegantly catered with an attentive wait staff worthy of the best tipping possible.

There were people there who made more money than I had ever seen in my short life – generously sharing the evening and indulging themselves in enriching the world around them. A couple young women were competing to see who would outbid the other in an auction.

It became more of a dream come true when I ascended the stage to be one of this year’s recipients of the Timothy G. White “Take A Stand” Award. I had read all about Timothy G. White (the late editor-in-chief of Billboard Magazine and humanitarian) and I had reflected on the award in an earlier blog post.

The most momentous part of the evening, for me, was meeting his widow, Mrs. Judy Garlan White, who is on hand every year to give the award. She re-defined grace. I would have been happy just to have made her acquaintance and to thank her. She was interested in my reflections about her husband and the award he established and its impact on my blossoming career. I was overwhelmed by her grace.

As the daylight dawned the next morning and I eventually returned home in my worn-out dress from the previous evening clutching the glass slipper (my framed award), I knew I would have to find a way to return to the mundane of my life.

I am planning to go back to next year’s Give Camp (2011) at the NERD in Cambridge again. I have no illusions of recreating a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I will always take the opportunity to give of myself, my time, and my talents to make some positive impact on the world around me.

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