On Saturday, Dima and I revved up the Mini Cooper and ventured out of Boston to North Reading, Massachusetts, to attend an afternoon celebration of "everyone who is near and dear to us." There was tons of food, a pool for kids to swim in... even big tents strung with little twinkling lights.
And then there was the small box collecting money, tucked away in the corner of one of the tents, with a piece paper hanging above it. On it was a printout of a webpage from the Park City Community Foundation website.
Joseph, a 20-year-old boy, had passed away after a car accident last September, and a memorial scholarship had been established to keep his spirit alive. This was our friend Amy's way of honoring this young adult's life, and raising funds for something—and someone—who was near and dear to her.
Around 8pm, a British band, Scars on 45, played an acoustic set (they were absolutely awesome and subsequently have been on repeat on my Spotify for the rest of the weekend... I'd love to bring them to The Garage someday). And as I sat towards the back of the tent, listening to their non-amplified music, a gorgeous female voice soaring in the night sky backed by a guitar, $15 keyboard and box used as a drum set, I for a brief moment turned and caught Amy out of the corner of my eye.
There was a big smile on her face.
I turned and looked around at the rest of the crowd.
More joy. Even some dancing.
And as I tucked my sweatshirt closer to me on the cool September night, I was reminded that this is what philanthropy really is. Love of humankind. Of each other. A life had been taken away, but tonight, Amy had given life to a beautiful evening: "The idea... is also to bring [to the party] that friend who means so much to you life--the one who is always in the stories you tell (the good, the bad and the ugly)."
You see, on this night, generosity was more than about raising money. It was about having a shared experience that honors a legacy, and hopefully, gives new life to a community of people.