“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” — Proverbs 11:25
“African American philanthropy is a stunning example of ‘populist philanthropy.’ We as a people have been able to demonstrate how philanthropy is a form of relationship with others that everyone can practice. Children to seniors in our community have a long history of giving selflessly to those we know intimately as well as to total strangers. I am very proud of our cultural history as philanthropists!”
— Jennifer Henderson, a kind contributor of narratives for Giving Back
“Light glorifies everything. It transforms and ennobles the most commonplace and ordinary subjects.” — Leonard Misonne, photographer
One of the stories featured in Giving Back pays tribute to Carlotta and Johnnie Jones—ordinary people with an extraordinary philanthropic spirit. Faith and long family traditions provide light for their path of generous giving. The Jones’s firm beliefs and lifelong example inspired their daughter Melandee to share her story for the book.
Their enlightened family legacy lives on. Melandee serves on the boards of Arts For Life, BDPA and Citizen Schools. She also is member of New Generation of African American Philanthropists, a giving circle that gives back. — VF
After orchids, the rose is my favorite flower. Its unmatchable beauty and famous symbolism have inspired my “Stop and Smell the Roses” parties over the years. Roses forever stir the poet and lover and philosopher in me.
A stalky rosebush grows at the edge of my driveway, just where I pull up and park every day. I imagine it could be nearly as old as my 75-year-old house. Constant and kind, my tall rose greets me upon arriving home and bids adieu when leaving. Just seeing it makes me happy. And it makes me think, too. Sitting in the car, before turning off the engine or driving away, I often take a moment to breathe in its metaphorical messages. Day to day, season to season, it seems to have something new and important to say.
Bare of blooms and thorny, sometimes draped in ice or laced with snow in winter, its stems and its leaves stay green throughout. Budding feverishly at the hint of spring, it bodes a host of hopes yet to come. Bowed with bursts of blossoms before summer, it beckons boldness with humbleness. Sometimes, I am tempted to oblige with a quick curtsy for its gracious and welcoming bow. The weeks pink petals litter the pathway, I’m convinced it has strewn them just to make my day.
The other day I came home to find my rosebush lying prone across the driveway. It had fallen over from the weight of wild new growth and from the neglect of an admiring but challenged gardener. Roots intact and still vibrant, it just needed pruning and a secure fastening to its trellis. Yet another message. A reminder of life’s delicate balancing act. Stretching, growing, climbing, reaching can its toll. This I know. While I have taken time to do some pruning and can show scratches for proof, struggles in keeping my own balance have kept me from re-anchoring it. So, it still blocks my driveway.
Yesterday as I drove up, a surprise. There, in the spindly, thorny mass that has sprawled the drive for days, perhaps weeks now, a single blossom. One rose eked out by my fatigued floral friend. A tiny gift. And a monumental message. Even when weary from this world’s weight, keep doing your thing. — VF
“The Philanthropic Five” featured here are friends and donor-members of the giving circle New Generation of African American Philanthropists (one of my fav photos!):
- Men Tchaas…the philosopher
- Lovell…the musician
- Rashad…the entrepreneur
- Michael…the artist
- Eric…the advocate
“Religion without humanity is poor human stuff.” — Sojourner Truth
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” — Leo Tolstoy
“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
— Nelson Mandela (b. 18 Jul 1918)
In Giving Back, we ask: What’s distinctive about Black philanthropy?
Here’s a response . . .
“How dynamic it is—just like African Americans. Our philanthropy can take on many shapes and forms, from taking care of neighborhood children to preparing meals, from sharing our artistic talents tobraiding hair or donating dollars.” — Meka S. Sales