To Gala or not to Gala, that is (a part of) the question

IMG_0201.JPG Last night I went to Gala, it’s the season for fund raisers. It was for a University in our town, $400 a ticket, formal attire. As you walked in appetizers were passed, wine and cocktails flowing. The silent auction had trips to Napa, cases of wine, baskets of hi-end cupcake making materials. It was beautifully orchestrated.

When we entered the main room where the 600 guests would enjoy a 5 course meal, it was lit in purple lighting with the famous chef stage aglow as the focal point of the evening. There was a lot of mingling, toasting and laughter as people gathered in their finery to support education.

As we started our dinner, live auction items were mixed in, an African Safari, dinner at the top restaurants in New York and Seattle. If a person wanted to be on stage and have the chef cook for you, you could do that for a donation of several thousand dollars.

As our evening went on, course after course, I just wanted to be home with my family. It’s not that it wasn’t a beautiful event, it absolutely was. I just wonder, what would happen if we just cut out all of the fanciness and spent those 6 hours talking with these bright wealthy people about how to truly make a difference in our community? Could the business owners give more jobs to students and people that need them? What if the wealthiest 10 people gave $25,000 each to fund finding the answer to the question “How do we become a community that truly supports each other?” What if we created a think tank of the most innovative minds in our area and incentivized creativity with some of this money that it takes to put on a party like this? Would that get us further down the road to solutions than fundraisers every weekend for another cause?

It’s time to start thinking differently about how to change this system of top down charity. How do you get into the hearts and minds of people that have all of their needs met, and the some? Is it just too hard to relate to people that find money a barrier to the direction they want to go in their lives? It makes me sad to see how disconnected the “rich” and the “poor” are in our society. I get that it has been that way since forever but it still doesn’t seem right. In my walk of life I have seen brilliance, innovation, creativity, and generosity – regardless of socioeconomic status. Some of the most beautiful gifts I have ever seen have been from people who could be considered “not having much”. From my viewpoint these are the powerful gifts, the ones that change lives – both the giver and receiver.

Let’s move to a new way of being that supports everyone, creates solutions and builds a strong diverse community. We can do it, I know we can. We just have to start asking questions and thinking differently.

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