We made a birthday party for a little girl.
We decorated the house, set the table, and prepared party food and a big birthday cake. We sent out invitations well in advance, and when the big day came, she was so excited that she woke up at 5 a.m. and waited for everyone to arrive. She sat at the table in her prettiest dress with a big bow in her hair and a smile on her face, knowing that it would be a magical day. As the day wore on, though, nobody came. Her smile waned and faded; and when it got dark, and no one else showed up, she was devastated. How could I explain to her that people are busy and nobody had time for her?
I know that if you’d gotten the invitation and understood how important it was to her, you’d have come even for a few minutes to let her know you care. But guess what? We all get invitations like this all the time, and we figure someone else will provide the love that little girl needs.
I, as a community organizer at the JCC, like any individual or organization that devotes time, effort, and money into organizing events for the community, can tell you that sometimes it gets frustrating. We organize the party, buy the food, and prepare the decorations, but if nobody shows up with a gift in hand and a smile on their face, it can be demoralizing. When organizers see that members of community do not value their efforts enough to pay attention and give them feedback on the importance of their work – when they don’t get offers of help, even in the form of promoting the event on social media or e-mails, which takes only a moment – it makes them wonder why they bother.
The JCC alone presents 15 projects and 30 events per year. That’s a lot of manpower being poured into our community by people who may also have full-time jobs, but feel a debt to their community and understand that we’re here to help others, not just ourselves. I’m not saying you need to be involved in every campaign you come across, but understand that if Hakadosh Baruch Hu made you see it, there’s a reason for it. Take a moment and ask yourself how you can participate in these wonderful opportunities. If someone offered you the chance to buy ten shares of Google or Apple stock for $10, you would jump on the chance. Doing something for the Klal is much more rewarding, yet we let those opportunities slip through our fingers and figure that someone else will make that little girl at the table stop crying.
Now you know what’s going on behind the scenes, how people are giving up sleep, spending hours on phone calls and arrangements, and trying to give gifts to those who really need them. The next time you hear about a campaign or event, please keep it in mind and ask yourself, “What can I do to help put a smile on someone’s face?”
Better yet, pick up the phone or shoot an e-mail and ask, “How can I get involved?”
P.S. The birthday party was a mashal. No children were harmed in the creation of this magazine.