February 13, 2009
In response to the difficult and disruptive times we are facing socially and economically, there are three ways to enrich your life, community and the lives of others: Cut back on your spending, build your savings and increase your faith, hope and charitable giving.
The first two recommendations are obvious. In tough times, people turn to product substitutes as a social norm, pattern and trend. Expensive brand names are replaced by products that are more economically suitable. Luxury and lagniappe services are scrutinized and reduced to valued-added and essential needs.
As financial institutions tighten their lending policies/practices, spending slows down and cash becomes king and credit is queen for reserves and future purchases. Increasing personal savings becomes a priority (right thing to do) for cash flow management and emergencies but also lend to the deceleration of the economy. Add to that the financial burdens associated with reduced work hours, hiring freezes and lay-offs, people''s instinctive behaviors quickly shift to the pre-stated cycle of conservation and reservation.
But just as critical during an economic downturn is increasing your faith, hope and charitable giving.
All of these are meaningful and important aspects in growing our lives, community and relationships with God and our brethren. In Hebrew Chapter 11 of The Bible, it explains that faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen. And 1 Corinthians 13:13 states "Now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.
Charitable organizations such as United Way play a vital role in servicing the needs of others in our community. And when times get hard, the needs become greater for many individuals and families seeking help. With unemployment at its highest level in decades, more people are turning to United Way agencies that are already strained for help and social services.
Individuals, companies, organizations and foundations that are presently working and functioning amidst our recessive state, now is the time to increase your charitable giving to offset the financial deficit and erosion of resources allocated to numerous agencies under United Way. A famous saying goes "Most people give generously during good times but only generous people give during hard times." Which one are you?
Corporate entities - be creative. Do not bury your head in the sand of "profits are down" or hide behind the walls of "business is slow." Accomplish two goals with a single effort. Encourage and incentivize your employees to achieve company cost cutting goals in exchange for rewards, commitments and matching funds to United Way.
Most importantly, teach others (family and love ones) the lessons of spending conservatively, saving aggressively and giving generously, especially during tough times.
The greatest enrichment, fulfillment and increase in your life come when you give unselfishly for the benefit of others and community. There are millions of people in this country and thousands in our community that are much worse off than you, and United Way needs your help now more than ever.
Please give today.
Learnard Dickerson serves on the United Way of Lowndes County Board of Directors. For more information about United Way, please call 328.0943 or visit unitedwaylowndescounty.org.