Written by Cheryl Broetje, Founder and President
This fall, Broetje Family Trust employees are reading Brian McLaren’s book, We Make the Road by Walking. Chapter 4 is entitled “Plotting Goodness.” We believe that philanthropic organizations are founded to plot goodness, and to finance love, especially focused on the economically poor, the politically marginalized, and the socially vulnerable.
In this way, the land, water, trees, animals, and people who have become disconnected from one another can be redeemed, restored to wholeness, and most importantly begin to find their belonging in some community where they feel safe enough and valued enough to try on new visions, perspectives, activities, and relationships.
This summer, a young man came into our lives out of nowhere. He was homeless. No I.D., no driver’s license, no dreams, and seriously broken family relationships. He came every day for about two weeks, asking for a job. Enough of our staff became aware of his presence that we began to plot how we could bring some goodness into his life. At the same time, we were designing the beginnings of an intern program to meet needs across the Trust. We were just finishing construction of our new building, and we knew that we would need help unloading furnishings, supplies, office furniture, etc. And so we recruited 4 young people to work in various areas of our organization for the summer. He was one. Our job at the Trust is to nurture servant leaders and to assist them in discovering where the current needs of the world intersect with their own uniqueness.
What we soon learned is that, although this young man carries many past traumas within him, he also has an energizing spirit that wants to help others. He has spent time helping us get settled, hosting visitors, and subbing for staff in our café; and he is especially gifted at drawing people together during our “Call to Community” weekly staff meetings. Robert Greenleaf refers to people with that gift of energizing others as “spirit carriers.” This young man is one of those spirit carriers.
If we are to build a better society in these times–one that is more loving and just, and provides more opportunities for more people–I think we need to consider becoming houses of hospitality in both for profit and non-profit institutions of all sectors, whose doors and hearts welcome all who enter. In places like that, those who are suffering from neglect, isolation and disconnection may begin to breathe again, and just maybe discover themselves to be beloved children of God with gifts to contribute to the restoration of the good creation. Is someone knocking at your door?