Each week, leading up to “Giving Tuesday,” I decided to post a story illustrating the “art of generosity.” Instead of asking you to give to our non-profit, we chose to offer a handful of stories of generous people, then challenge you to find your own young person nearby and practice generosity.
Below is the story of my friend, Lauren Sisler. If you enjoy sports, you may have seen Lauren on ESPN, interviewing players on the sidelines at college football games. Lauren was an NCAA Division 1 athlete in college (gymnastics) and continues to make sports a part of her daily life.
But her story was rudely interrupted during her freshman year of college.
Lauren received a call from her father, sharing the tragic news that her mother had passed away suddenly. As you can imagine, Lauren was in shock, and quickly flew home to be with her family. Instead of her dad picking her up at the airport, however, it was her uncle. When she asked where her dad was—her uncle pulled over to search for words. He regretfully informed Lauren that her father had passed away just hours after her mom did. Both of their lives were cut short from prescription drug overdoses.
Lauren and her brother, Allen, were reeling from the shock of losing both parents within hours of each other. But the story was only at halftime at this point.
She Lost More Than Her Parents
Just a few months after her parents, George and Lesley Sisler, passed away, Lauren and Allen faced several challenges with their estate. Her parents didn’t have a will and there were numerous debts owed to their estate. In order to repay them, everything in their house had to be auctioned off.
One morning a moving van pulled up into their driveway, a few men jumped out of the truck, entered their house and began loading every single possession in that home into the moving truck before their very eyes. Every single piece of furniture, every article of clothing, and every photo was boxed up and removed.
In short, all that Lauren and Allen knew as children evaporated right before their eyes.
They Needed a Miracle
Following this abrupt and intrusive series of events, Lauren pretty much felt hopeless. Not only were her beloved parents gone, but every memory-containing artifact they’d accumulated was removed as well.
But then, something happened.
Shortly afterward, two teachers at the high school Lauren attended decided they had to do something. Although they had little time or money, those teachers found a way to quickly raise nearly $3,000 before the estate auction. Their goal was to buy back some of their belongings at the auction. They didn’t stop with fundraising either. They actually attended the auction with Lauren’s brother, Allen, to ensure they purchased the most important items the kids cherished most deeply.
That sounds like the art of generosity to me.
While it may sound cliché, generosity is about so much more than money. Those ordinary teachers gave their very hearts—they sacrificed their time, their wills, their compassion as well as their own personal money and the money they were able to raise.
Lauren told me, “It was that generous act of kindness that allowed me to hold onto items that were important to both my parents and to Allen and me, items that I hope to one day share with my children and pass down for generations to come.”
May I ask a question? Do you know a student who needs you to practice generosity?