Giving Back

Ken - Altus, Oklahoma
Entered on March 8, 2007

Age Group: 50 - 65

I was lucky growing up in West Texas. I had a mother who led by example and had plenty of ‘country sayings.’ I was raised on a farm that my family worked for the local banker. Although we didn’t have a lot in terms of financial excesses, we had plenty to eat and enough to go to town every Sunday.

Even though we were ‘share croppers,’ my mother really believed in helping those who were less fortunate than we were. She was continuously taking food and clothing to families around the county and sometimes just visiting elderly ladies seeing if they needed anything. I got to go along when I was young—mostly helping to entertain the children in a family while my mother talked to their mother about ‘family planning.’

She never made me go, but offered to let me go. Of course, getting a chance to go anywhere was a treat for a kid who lived five miles from town and one mile from the nearest neighbor. In the car, my mother would always work in one of her little sermons. She mostly talked in home spun sayings like, “Always leave the wood pile higher than you found it.”

My mother was very religious, so a lot of my lessons were based on her interpretation of the Scriptures. One of her favorite sayings was a country quote from Dr. Luke. Her version of “To whom much is given, much is required” was “He that’s got a lot, needs to share.”

I was lucky that my first job out of college was with a bank in Oklahoma City—Liberty National Bank. The bank owners, like my mother, believed in giving back. They were firm believers in the United Way and not only were employees expected to give of their money, but they were expected to give of their time as well. I think I was in the bank’s first group of “loaned executives,” using the term “executive” loosely.

There were a lot of examples of the bank officers giving back to their community in civic, charitable, and professional ways. It just seemed second nature for all of the staff to volunteer for anything that was worthwhile.

Now, thirty-five years later, my hobby is volunteering.

I believe that when people of good intent come together, things can change. People can make a difference in others by just being there. My mother’s lessons still apply. It doesn’t always take money, but it always takes time and caring. I believe by coming together as a unified effort, we can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than ours.

I believe in giving back.