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Matt Beem
President, Kinetic Companies, Inc.

Many Here Live by Giving

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

It’s good to review life’s book of lessons once in awhile.

I was thinking Thursday night at our son’s school music program about something my mom taught me early on: Support the people and pursuits about which you’re passionate.

Giving has always guided her daily course. Whether serving as the co-founder and executive director of Sunshine Center School or as a grandmother, aunt and neighbor, she’s a quintessential philanthropist.

Those who know her well are familiar with her giving spirit. They’ve seen her in action and benefitted from her generosity.
And while those meeting her for the first time may not immediately connect her persona to philanthropy, they’re quickly struck by her positive demeanor and upbeat nature. It’s a dividend that flows from her continual focus on others.

Believe it or not, though, this column’s not about my mother. I’ll save that for another time.

Yet her life exemplifies why giving is essential. There have been times in her journey when others would have understood if she’d focused exclusively on herself. But mom has always known the personal rewards she receives from giving to others – even in times when she has needs of her own – are invaluable.
Which brings me to my point: We all should give, especially in these tough times, to help others and to improve ourselves.

There are plenty of people in Eastern Jackson County living a philanthropic life:

  • Laura Kilpatrick, who teaches music at Bryant Elementary School, sparked the idea for this column. At our kindergartner’s school music program, Kate and I witnessed firsthand – as we have at least once a year since our oldest child started school – the difference her commitment to musical education makes in students’ lives. Mrs. K, as she’s affectionately known, goes above and beyond, staging individual musical productions during the year for each grade. Along the way, kids grow musically and gain the confidence and success that come from practicing and carrying out a major performance.

  • Tom Waters at Corporate Copy Print is a true community partner. He’s always printed letterhead, flyers, brochures and posters affordably for Kate’s and my various pursuits. And for the last several years, Tom has donated the printing and preparation of 1,500 doorknob hang tags for Boy Scout Troop 228’s annual Scouting for Food drive, which benefits Community Services League.

The list goes on and on. I wish there were enough space to recognize every Eastern Jackson County philanthropist.

Yet those I’ve mentioned point to the riddle of philanthropy: People who give the most seem to have the most to give.

Which gets me back to life’s book of lessons and the reason mom taught me to help others. She knew helping people would enable me to serve them and gain the personal dividends that come from a giving life.

Thanks for the pointer, mom. And thanks to you, Laura Kilpatrick, Tom Waters and the many others who live lives of philanthropy.

It’s easy to focus on ourselves in these trying times. You remind us to remember others.

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