Monday, January 7, 2008

The Gift

Ron’s wife Nancy passed on much too young leaving him with six wonderful children, two still in diapers. The Chiricosta family, losing their battle with cancer and faced with one of life’s overwhelming challenges, doesn’t let their faith sway. Ron knows God’s purposes are beyond his understanding and attempts to handle what he humanly can each and every day.

Ron inspires me to be a better person.

When tragedy strikes, we’re faced with a decision to either become bitter or better.
Ron’s internal strength continues to increase with each unexpected life turn. Each of the children express Nancy’s numerous qualities in their own way, so she continues to live through them. It’s plain to see just how incredible she really was.

Through it all, Ron continues to be our greatest champion of philanthropy, dedicating his life to our cause as one of the most effective major gift officers I’ve ever known. Ron is not good at self-acclaim, but if you get him alone he will tell you his secret.

The soft-spoken woman on the phone explained her intentions to donate a ring to the charity Ron represents. She went into great detail of her love and passion for its mission and what a tremendous impact the charity has on her and her family’s life.

The drive to Rumson, New Jersey is long, but well worth it. Rumson, full of beautiful waterfront properties, is one of the wealthiest places in the tri-state area. Ron thought that if this woman lives in Rumson, then this ring must certainly be worth a fortune.

One of the hardest things about major gift fundraising is actually getting an appointment with a person of wealth. It takes several months, and often years, to cultivate and build a relationship to a level of trust where you understand the person’s passion for charity. Ron believes he had either cheated the process or been blessed.

The homes get larger with every new street as the directions lead him. Ron takes you through his secret story with a smile and a gleam in his eye. I guarantee your heart will begin to rush as he articulates the beautiful pillars and large oval shaped driveway of the most fantastic mansions ever.

Ron entertains the notion of his entire year’s fundraising goal being met tonight as he presses the doorbell. The large home is dark, which he just now observes. There isn’t a light on anywhere. After several attempts of knocking and the echoing of the pleasant chime, he decides to investigate by peering through the massive windows. Staying longer than most, and now believing the phone call is a hoax, he gives one final knock. A faint light goes on deep within the house, causing a burst of adrenaline to shoot through him. More lights turn on, and the door opens.

A lovely woman, perhaps in her mid-forties, answers the door. Ron acknowledges himself and her reply is a warm smile with an invitation to come inside.

She leads Ron through a series of hallways and finally down a steep stairwell. As he ducks under the third steam pipe, reality hits Ron in the chest, knocking the proverbial wind out of him. Two small boys sit quietly at a table inside a tiny makeshift kitchen deep within the basement of this enormous home . . . that someone else owns.

It takes only a few seconds to scan their entire living space as Ron humbly sits down next to the two well-mannered boys. She begins her story by reaffirming their love for the mission and explains how blessed they are to be able to live in and clean this wonderful home. While her husband was alive, they, as a family, would teach their boys the meaning of life by donating to Ron’s charity.

She explains why it’s been years since their last donation but no clarification is necessary for Ron. Continuing on, her face begins to flush as she describes how important the charity was to her late husband, concluding with a donation of a ring.
So with teary eyes and a few strong tugs, she slips her wedding band off. Handing the humble ring to Ron she says, “I know you know what to do with this to make sure those who need help the most get it.
I’m sure this is what my husband would have me do. Thank you for receiving this gift from our family.”

Speechless, Ron realizes he just received the largest gift of his fundraising career. Passion makes us all do amazing things—a true champion helps others discover and set free their passion. Driving home that night from Rumson, Ron’s nightly conversation with God is filled with thanksgiving and a peace that surpasses all understanding.

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.
Pierre Corneille 1606 - 1684

The Gift Part Two

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