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July 03, 2014

Volunteer Finds Meaning and Joy

Volunteer Finds Meaning and Joy


It wasn’t the first time he had been approached by a hospital administrator asking for his support. When the president of a major hospital invited him to lunch and asked him to consider serving on the board, his initial response was the same as it had always been.


I said, “You’re talking to the wrong guy. I know nothing about healthcare. I’ve never been sick. So, you know, best wishes.”

And they said, “We’re not interested in your experience in healthcare. We know healthcare, but you know this town and its people.”

So I said, “Today’s Friday. I’ll get back to you on Monday. I’ll think it over this weekend.”

On the way back to my office, I decided to take a ride by the hospital. I realized that my mother had been born two blocks from the hospital, in a tenement house. I lost her when I was 19 to colon cancer. So I decided quickly that I would do this in her name.


And so began his philanthropic relationship with the hospital. Years later, he made a multimillion-dollar contribution for the Center for Women’s Health, which bears his mother’s name. It was the first of his major contributions to the hospital. When we interviewed him 19 years later, he was in his 15th year as the chairman of the board. What began because of a life-changing experience—the loss of his mother as a teenager—has grown into what this man calls his “second career.”


Making a living is important but making a life and helping others and sharing and being an example for the next generation is what life has always been about.

In baseball, you can’t put eight people on the field. You have to have a shortstop. And we philanthropists want to play on the team. We want to contribute to the victory, to the success of this venture.


The meaning and joy that the gentleman has discovered through his volunteerism and philanthropy is immeasurable—all because he took a detour after that Friday lunch and connected with a life-changing experience.



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