GENEROSITY IT PAYS OFF!
Generosity is the gift that keeps on giving, and if you know where to look, the streets of America are filled with the stories of unsung heroes of philanthropy. They could be wealthy investors like the late great Lewis Cullman, to a simple diner chef paying for a homeless man’s meal. Simple acts of human kindness are fuel to the living flames of generosity, which if payed forward on the national scale, can spread like wild fires until the entire nation is consumed not by greed, but by the love of humanity. The Endow America Network Foundation is devoted to this idea, through educating Americans about the concept of Social Secharity, which Les Winston calls “the road to human kindness.”
One such story is Lewis B. Cullman, who passed away in June of 2019 at 100 years of age, was a genius investor and a renowned American philanthropist who, together with his late wife Dorothy, donated hundreds of millions of dollars to all kinds of charitable causes. He was born into a wealthy family in the tobacco industry, but felt unchallenged; Lewis loved meteorology though, he just wanted to be a weather man. His endeavors were interrupted when, on December 7th, 1941, the Japanese Empire attacked the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, and the United States officially entered World War II. Lewis served as a meteorologist for the US Navy, warning allied ships of storms and other hazardous weather patterns, both in the Atlantic and later in the Mediterranean. After the war, he founded his own weather service station in Boston and served the community there for 3 years before he had to take charge of the family business. He formed his own investment company called Cullman Ventures, buying up start-up companies like Keith Clark, which made appointment books, diaries and desk calendars, renaming it At A Glance, quickly growing to the number one organization of its kind in America, later selling the company for $550 million. Then he did something remarkable, instead of investing his money in Wall Street as most would do, he donated $500 million, nearly all of his acquired wealth, to charitable foundations, like funding education programs at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, a fellowship for writers and scholars at the New York Public Library and the New York Botanical gardens, among others.
But you don’t have to be a millionaire to make a difference, as we can see in the story of Larry Stewart, also known as “Kansas City’s Secret Santa,” whose story was recently told in Brad Aronson’s book “Human Kind.” Larry started from a humble background, growing up in poverty. Determined to take care of himself, he worked by the sweat of his brow, only to be let down by the small business he worked for, failing to pay Larry three paychecks in a row, money he needed to survive. One day he was so hungry he went into a diner, not knowing how he’d pay for his meal. When he was finished he looked all around him and claimed to have lost his wallet. That’s when out of nowhere, the diner cook came out and handed Larry a $20 bill, claiming he had found it on the floor and it must have been Larry’s. Larry was able to pay for his meal, but also swore to himself that when he was financially secure that he would commit himself to helping others, the way that diner cook helped him that day. Larry founded an entire society of “Secret Santas,” who would randomly and anonymously hand out $100 bills to people in need. Stewart passed away in January of 2007, but his legacy inspired others to continue the tradition until today.
These are just a few examples of how the concept of philanthropy can not only enrich society, but you as well. Let these stories inspire you, because if enough of us get behind the idea of Social Secharity, which seeks to endow America through the life-altering power of human kindness, just imagine how much good we can accomplish not just for America, but for a better world. For more information on Social Secharity, visit www.socialsecharity.org , or like us on Facebook @SocialSecharity.
- Ossman J. Darwiche 03/22/2021