Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Lots of Good in the World

There is something very humbling about being in a room with 120 nonprofit leaders of organizations in the Peninsula, who spend their days working to make a difference in poverty, hunger, at-risk youth, domestic abuse, disabilities, education .... Today, the Sobrato Foundation celebrated 10 years of grantmaking totaling over $30 Million in support to local agencies. In attendance were grant recipients of 2006. One only needs to be present at one of these events to realize all the good that is being done in our community. At the conclusion of the event, each organization was asked to pull a balloon down from the ceiling. On the count of 3, we popped them in unison. Surprise-inside each balloon was a slip of paper-this was the Sobrato Foundation's gift to us and they consisted of $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 and one $50,000 gifts. Ours was $1,000. All together, today, they gave away $250,000 to local charities. The building we were in, had been renovated to provide free office space to 28 nonprofits, and a beautiful conference facility to be used by local organizations.

I have always had tremendous respect for David Packard and Bill Gates, who are prime examples of how philanthropy can change the world, our environment and the neighborhoods we live in. As my children were growing up, I realized that the Packard Foundation had impacted just about every aspect of their lives-the trails we walked, the symphony they played in, the art classes they took, the schools they went to...

Bill Gates has always been my hero. He has been an example of working at something he was passionate about, being proud of the kind of person he was, and creating a business that has changed everyone's life. Furthermore, he made nerdiness something to be respected. The Gates Foundation has worked to create educational reform nationwide, to fight AIDS globally, and to make systemic change in poverty by investing in drought tolerant crops for places like Africa and India. Their effort, with Warren Buffet's funding, to effect global change are commendable.

I also find it extremely encouraging to see how philanthropists in Silicon Valley have made a concerted effort to raise their children with a tradition of giving. These mothers have taken the time to train them to continue the family's charitable endeavors- the Groves, Sobratos, Packards, to name just a few. Their offspring are gracious and unpretentious, genuine in their dedication to making the community a better place.

So much of what we see on the news and in the paper is negative- focusing on crime and war, and bad politics. I suppose that is why I find our work so rewarding. For a few hours a day, we can escape to where we can see that there is lots of good people, doing lots of good in the world.

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