No. 474



When it comes to giving gifts to others, the old Roman philosopher Annaeus Lucius Seneca once said, "A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer." As you ponder this thought, I want to tell you about a lady here in my community who has really been a blessing to me. One of the reasons she has been such a blessing is because she has the true spirit of "giving back," something I have been advocating almost from the time I started writing this column. What many people have never come to realize is that by giving something of value away, with the right motive or attitude, the more they will receive in return. The only requirement is that we must give first, and the blessings will follow, though sometimes much later.

Some time back Marie Richardson and her husband Miles or "Bug," as he was affectionately called, began to attend the Sunday school class where Viola and I attend church. In 1970 Bug had a heart attack and then a continuing serious of heart problems that became so severe that about 10 years ago the doctors said he would not live for more than a year. Well, he beat the odds considerably but passed away on July 27, 2004. For months before his death he was in and out of the hospital so many times that I lost count. He would have fluid build up around his heart, Marie would take him in, stay a few days, and then she would take him back home.

Quite often, Bug would get home from the hospital on Friday and they would show up for Sunday school on Sunday. But that's only part of the story. Several years before Bug had also developed a severe case of macular degeneration and had almost lost his eyesight. Couple this with a case of severe hearing loss and you will understand why I was so inspired by this couple, especially Marie, as she would have him hold her arm and then lead him almost every step of wherever they went. The night before the funeral I was in their home and Marie asked me to come back to the bedroom.

When I got there, she showed me a Reading Magnifier that Bug had used to read for the last several years of his life. This Reading Magnifier costs a lot of money, was paid for by the Veterans Administration, but came from the Lions World Services for the Blind in Little Rock. Marie said she and Bug had talked about it before his death and they wanted someone to have it that could benefit by being able to read. In case you don't know, a Reading Magnifier consists of a large TV unit that is hooked up to another unit with a flat surface where you can place words or articles with small type and magnify them up to big bold letters that can be read by the visually impaired.

Marie told me that she knew I was a member of the Lions Club and I might be able to find a good use for it. At this point I sprung into action and put the word out on our group e-mail list to all members of our club about this opportunity. Within a few minutes I heard from our president, at the time, who is also vice president of one of our three local colleges. He told me their library did not have a Reading Magnifier and they would like to have it. Our club had already purchased two other units at a cost of about $2,600 each and presented them to one of the other college libraries and the county library.

A few weeks later, there was a presentation made to the head librarian at the college, and Marie was there to be a part of it. The next day there was a big, above the fold, story with a picture, in our local paper, the Log Cabin Democrat. It was so well written by Rachel Parker, one of the paper's staff writers and also a member of our club. We also had Marie as our guest at one of our weekly meetings where we presented her a framed certificate to thank her for her generosity. At my invitation, she also joined our club and has already worked in one of our projects. What is so ironic is that Marie didn't know any of this was coming, or that I would be doing a column about her and her sweet spirit of wanting to help others. She also loaned one of Bug's power chairs to another member of our church who has cancer, and this will help him to get around during the remaining weeks or months of his life.

One of the reasons I wanted to do this column is because there is so much negative news that has to be printed each day but there are so many good things happening in every community too. We need to read about the positive things as well. While I don't know about you, stories like this inspire me to want to do better and to help others. If you know of true stories of people helping others in the spirit of "giving back" in your community, send them to me. I would like to share some of them in future columns.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)