When November rolls up to December, I begin to make the list of organizations and groups that have enriched my year, given me such pleasure or brightened my life so much that reciprocity is in order. But what am I going to do? Play an out-of-tune scale on my violin for the symphony? Perform a skit for an entire theatre troupe? No. That’s where a monetary gift can be a stand-in for reciprocity.
I have greatly enjoyed a number of performances this year, and also follow the work of several human services organizations. One such organization is the YMCA. Yes, I belong and pay a monthly fee. But the YMCA is so much more than a gym, or exercise club. It serves the entire community with scholarships and subsidies that allow youngsters to attend camps in the summer, to eat healthily on weekends and summertime, to learn team sports, and to swim. It also serves anyone in the community who wants help with chronic disease management and/or prevention, weight loss programs, and it hosts Livestrong programs for people with cancer. It offers exceptional daycare for preschoolers, and tends children whose parents are at the Y to pursue fitness goals . . . and on and on.
We all make donations when we are able—to churches, bootstrap organizations, meal programs, favorite hospitals, cultural groups, and national groups like the Red Cross and organizations assisting any number of needs for people without means to pay for them. Many of those gifts are pure altruistic: “Here—take this—you do great work.” But some gifts are reciprocal—a way to show thankfulness for acts of generosity benefiting us!
When I look back over the past eleven months, I realize I’ve much to be grateful for from various cultural groups, enjoying many memorable theatrical productions, breathtaking symphony concerts, mind-boggling art exhibits. I am immensely grateful for my healthcare providers (cutting out the cancer in January, just for starters), not to mention the loving support and companionship of family and friends, help from neighbors, inspiration from community volunteers, and energy from an always-welcoming staff at the Y. The list goes on. I am blessed with gifts from all kinds of places—from across the street to across the water, from as close as my neighborhood to the neighboring country (home to one of my granddaughters and her parents). My body and soul are all replenished through these gifts. To some I will show my appreciation by making a monetary donation; to others I can only do it with these words: Thank you.