By David Aft

Our collective hearts go out to the victims and families of those who perished or were wounded in Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. I know this event, as well as the other recent tragedies and natural disasters, are weighing heavily on all of us.

Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 3rd Class Johanna Strickland/Handout via Reuters (GPB, PBS NewsHour)

Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 3rd Class Johanna Strickland/Handout via Reuters (GPB, PBS NewsHour)

It can be very easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless. If that happens, then the forces of evil win - every time.

Over the last few years, Vu Le has become an important voice in the nonprofit world. In his column this morning, he noted the following, and I believe it to be an important message in these challenging times.

“Though it seems the work we each do may be too remote or too small or too unconnected to make much of a difference in light of everything, be assured that it does," Le wrote. "Last week the Montana Nonprofit Association introduced me to an uplifting essay by poet and author Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, called 'We Were Made for Times Like These.'"

Here’s the passage Le referred to:

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
— Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Over the past few weeks, I have made it a point to watch people mobilize to help others.  Whether it was a corporation sending drinking water to Houston or the daughter of a friend of mine who organized her own relief effort for storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, people and organizations respond in times of need. Most examples are far less dramatic and occur all of the time. Whether you participate in a your church’s latest mission trip or make a donation to this year’s United Way campaign, your gifts shape the world around you and contribute to the accumulation so eloquently described Dr. Estes.

Every day I see evidence of our individual and collective resolve to make the world a better place. These acts continue to offer both an optimistic vision and a proven path. Charity in and of itself may not heal the world, but collective action and investment can help us through our toughest times.

David Aft is the president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. He has worked in the nonprofit field for over twenty-five years and is a recognized resource and noted speaker on charitable enterprise, civics, fundraising strategy and community development.

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