Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Giving Tuesday from the Perspective of the Gifted

Friends of Faith:
Today is giving Tuesday. I thought it would be appropriate to share what giving looks like from the perspective of those who work for the agencies that benefit from your generosity. Hopefully we remember to give to those who truly need support this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
As a tribute I am sharing a “guest” column from one of our favorite charities—Bridgehaven, pregnancy support center, in Cedar Rapids. This Christian organization serves mothers, babies, and families with women’s health, prenatal care, post birth and post abortion support. Some of their financial support comes from my favorite second hand store, Treasures, located in downtown Cedar Rapids. Our daughter, Kristy, is on the board of directors.
This column was written by Kylee Pusteoska, Director of Development and a Traer native. Please look them up at www.bridgehavencr.org
“For most of us, Thanksgiving is a time of family, food and football. We anticipate a favorite dish, whether it be Aunt Nancy’s mashed potatoes or Cousin Andi’s Asian salad. Some are concerned about the outcome of the Cowboys game. Still others worry about cleaning their bathrooms for the in-laws who will be spending the weekend. But what if you were the Development Director at a local non-profit? This would mean you were planning a wonderful Giving Tuesday campaign for your beloved charity.
Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday…November 29th this year. Traditionally, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate philanthropy. Around the globe, social media lights up with wonderful stories about the valuable work of of non-profits, along with a call to financially support these great organizations. We, at Bridgehaven, happen to be pretty proud of the work we do and I can’t wait to share that with the world.
My Marketing Coordinator and I came up with a fabulous plan, including photos and videos of our staff and volunteers talking about our work. I thought it was going to be an easy sell to the staff members…not so much. Apparently, being videotaped is a phobia-inducing experience for some. Others were worried about lipstick or hair. Others wanted to make sure they said exactly the right thing. There were several practice sessions and videos taped over and over. In the end, I think we are going to promote the joy and love that radiates from Bridgehaven but the experience got me thinking.
Doesn’t God ask us to shine our light into the dark world? Isn’t he asking us to show love to our neighbors and help care for the least of his people? The staff and volunteers at Bridgehaven do this every single day. They meet with young women who are often frightened and alone. They counsel young families facing difficult circumstances and teach classes to men and women who are trying to make their lives better. The staff is constantly making connections in the community so that we can offer our clients information about services we don’t provide. We work with several other non-profit organizations in Cedar Rapids to make sure our clients get the care needed by them and their families. Every day, these men and women at Bridgehaven work hard to do God’s work….to be the hands and feet. And they do it with a grace I am in awe of. So why was it so hard for them to share that?
I think everyone on our staff feels called to be here. There is a connection with each other and with our clients that could not exist outside of this non-profit ministry. The love that moves through this place is like nothing I have experienced. It is such an honor to be part of this team. I am pretty sure everyone feels that but there was a disconnect when it came to saying it out loud on a video. Was it modesty? Humility? Was it the ol’ Iowa nice kicking in? It could have been any number of these things…it could have been all of them. But I think I finally figured it out.

Bridgehaven is a place of acceptance and love. The people who work here see that as normal and merely answered God’s call to be here and to serve. They don’t understand that what they do every day is miraculous. The work that happens at Bridgehaven involves faith and a comfort in knowing we are changing the future for the better. But the men and women who work here don’t realize all the gifts and talents they bring to the table. They don’t understand that I see them all as rock stars in Jesus’ band. They simply show up every day and love. They love each other and they love the clients and families who walk through our doors. They solely live the mission of Bridgehaven “to empower choices for life through Christ-centered education and support.”
So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful I work with a team so involved in love they don’t know how to express that in a promotional video. They come and hold the hands of our clients and offer them information without judgement. They sort clothes at Treasures to help raise funds to support the ministry. They teach classes about parenting to create stronger families. They do ultrasounds and teach classes about positive life choices. Some of us get to watch all of this and be amazed by what happens here. So when I tell you that the staff and volunteers here are exceptional, believe me. Just don’t ask me to show you evidence on video.”

Kylee Pusteoska
Director of Development

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