Last winter, I was visiting my mother in New York, when she did something that profoundly speaks to the theme of this issue.
It was freezing cold and we were about 10 blocks away from her apartment when we were approached by a homeless man. “Can you give me some help today?” he asked, holding out his hand. The man didn’t have any gloves, and his stiff, chapped fingers looked as if they could hardly move.
“I don’t have cash on me,” my mother said. “I’m so sorry.”
The man nodded, his raw, exhausted face not changing expression.
My mom stopped walking. “How are you doing?” she asked softly, and looked directly into his eyes.
I shifted from one numb foot to the other, hoping that he was doing OK or, if not, that he didn’t want to talk about it. I felt bad for the guy, but it was really cold.
“I can’t stop drinking,” the man said. “It’s going to kill me.”
I glanced longingly at the Starbucks across the street and then at my mother.
She ignored me, intent on the man. “You don’t know that,” she said. “There’s still time to change your life.”
They started discussing the man’s experiences trying to get sober, and as they talked he leaned toward her as if he were literally warming his body on her kindness.
“Listen to me,” my mother told him, and placed her hand gently on the ratty sleeve of his ancient Army jacket. “Every moment, every single moment, is fresh and new.” She took off her gloves and handed them to him. Her face was serene, luminous.
The man’s eyes filled with tears as he pulled my mother’s gloves over his red fingers. “Thank you, thank you,” he kept saying.
“You can do it,” my mom told him. “I believe in you.”
We began walking again and I thought about how my mother, who is 77 and on a small, fixed income gave her only pair of gloves — expensive ones at that — to a stranger, while all I was concerned about was getting a latte.
The incident has never left my mind.
Nearly a year later when the members of our editorial department suggested that we devote this issue to industry stories of charitable giving, I jumped at the idea.
In these tough times it’s so easy to forget what’s really important. At the end of the day, I suspect it’s not a profit/loss statement that will tell us whether we lived our lives well. I suspect it’s the way we treat others that matters.
If reading these 15 stories inspires you half as much as they inspired us as we wrote them, then this issue has done its job. As a result of a business we profiled, Managing Editor, Dan Schechner, is volunteering his time with animal rescue. Associate Editor Jessy Goodman has begun mentoring young women writers after being motivated by Jeff Clarkson’s actions.
As for me, the following story wouldn’t leave me alone until I joined the national bone marrow registry. I signed up just this week. So please read these stories, enjoy them, and pass them on to friends and family members. The people described here not only do our industry proud, they also represent the very finest of what our country as to offer.