Written by Jermaine Broetje, Grants Intern
Humanitarianism is a form of altruism that contributes to the ‘public good’. While young, I found these ideologies foreign. Aside from my family’s giving practices, philanthropy felt undefined. This changed in the eighth grade while attending a youth conference in Seattle, Washington. A young man began to present upon the children of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following his story, he ended with ‘in being a former child in these ranks, it is a miracle I am here’. I call these moments in my life, ‘pockets of light’ in which you hold onto and use to illuminate your spirit. Captivated by his presence and honesty, I felt inspired to learn more about this on-going social issue. I turned to my family as a resource. Throughout the next months, I became invested with the historical significance among children and war. Eventually, I was introduced to an entire classroom of children who had been both impacted and a part of the Ugandan Civil War. I share this as a reminder that philanthropy has not a time frame nor a set agenda of interests. We feel inspired to love through our experiences and connect to civil issues that relate to our lives. These are our passions. The book of John notes, ‘you can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.’ A reminder that our work is patient, kind, and stoic.
Philanthropy is often associated with the notion of ‘giving’ while its root definition exemplifies the values of love and humankind. We must note this distinction. Though philanthropy holds a definite meaning, there is not one way in which it is practiced…reminiscent of ourselves and our own creation, we each hold unique ways of giving. Excited to further explore the practices of philanthropy, I have asked a few members throughout Broetje Family Trust to express their ways of thinking through a philanthropic lens in asking, ‘How do you live philanthropy?
Members mentioned their practices as being to, ‘love and give as much guidance and assistance through being physically present as I can.” For others, to live philanthropy means being, ‘intentional in their approaches’. This is inclusive of anyone who holds passion for a particular cause. Often, there is the misconception that philanthropy is reserved for higher socioeconomic groups. Yet, all philanthropy requires of us is the ability to love with intention. The bible expresses this well. In Luke 21: 1-4, Jesus argues that the widow has given the most because while the rich have only given from their surplus, the widow has sacrificed everything, even suggesting that she may now not have money for food. I believe the widowed woman embodies the true purpose in giving, as she offers her spirit.
I invite you all to ask yourselves, “How do I serve in my community?” and to identify your own “pockets of light”. Often, we are unaware of our contributions due to their relevance, size, and worth. We must acknowledge that our philanthropy is not reserved for the wealthy nor measured in worth. It is our hearts that lead our giving within our community, our workplace, and our lives. We at the Trust embody this work through allowing space for our spirits and passions to coincide with one another and the world.