What Generosity Looks Like: Time, Talent and Treasure

Note from Jeffrey: This is a guest from Jenna Forstrom, former Community Manager at Adaptu.

When I was in college, I got the opportunity to participate in Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge. In four weeks, four different schools built four houses in South Palm Beach, Florida for families who currently didn’t have a place to call home.

It was the best Spring Break of my life. I escaped the Boston cold, got to hang out with my friends in the sunshine, learned how to wire an entire house, sleep in a Y.M.C.A., meet families who were in the process of getting homes and did I mention there was SUNSHINE! I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a week without classes.

Habitat has done a great job getting the entire community involved with the Collegiate Challenge. Every night various families and churches hosted us for dinner. There was a lot of laugher and story telling around each dinner table. One of them has stuck out to me years later.

One night after a day of painting walls and an hour of “rinsing” off at the beach we showed up at a mansion. I’m not exaggerating here, the house was huge, it had a tree house for their daughter that had indoor plumbing and a quarter mile track for racing go-karts!

On the lawn was a canopy with lights, tables with linens and catering. I was completely shocked. Here we are a bunch of grubby college students, with paint under are nails and in our hair, smelling like sweat and ocean and it felt like we were going to a wedding.

“Come in, come in,” the Dad said, “grab a seat.” We all looked around and sat down. After courses of food, jokes and stories, the Dad got up and talked to us.

“I just want you all to know how much our family appreciates what you are doing, while your peers are going out and celebrating Spring Break, you choose to give up your time to help those in need. That is truly something to celebrate. I believe in the three T’s.”

What are the “Three T’s?” They’re:

  • Time: Giving up a week of our lives to help those in need. It doesn’t have to be an entire week, it could be an hour a week helping a student with his homework or offering to watch a child so a neighbor can get some grocery shopping done.
  • Talent: Using your skills to help someone else. Pro-bono work, based on what you are uniquely good at for others in need. For example, building a fence or fixing a car.
  • Treasure: Being financially generous. Hopefully over the course of your life, you’ll excel and be blessed with enough money that you can then turn around and give back to those in need.

This break down of how to be generous has radically shifted my view on giving. I truly believe that as compassionate human beings, we are called to be generous in all three forms.

So after my Habitat experience in 2006, where am I at in 2013? Here’s my breakdown:

So here is my question: How are you being generous? This isn’t a guilt-trip, this is a gut-check.

If you are already being generous, I want to know about it. Leave a comment below to share and give us all inspiration to do the same.

If you aren’t being as generous as you’d like to be, what are some areas in your life or your community where you can change that? Leave a comment and let me know. I’ll even be your accountability buddy.

Jeffrey again. Thanks to Jenna for sharing her journey. I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with her at NightStrike, and she’s taught me a lot about helping others. If you’re interested in supporting her goal to raise $27,000 by her 27th birthday, check out Beyond the Bridge for more details.

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  1. These are awesome things you have been doing. We’re giving 10% for our church as well and we’re trying to help other charities too. It’s not the idea that we are going to receive back ten folds from what we are giving away that motivates us but that wonderful feeling that you experience once you know you have helped someone, without being recognized, is just priceless.

  2. @genxfinance I couldn’t agree with you more.  I used to volunteer with middle school students and would always jokingly tell them, “Ha!  You think I hang out with you because I think you need it?  No way!  It’s because I need it!”  There is something to be said about helping out your fellow humans.  I think we were created to do it.  I come home most Thursday nights from under the Bridge exhausted but always with a heart full of love and joy.

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