Thursday, November 4, 2010

Small Victories

It's been a rough week. In national politics, every candidate I voted for lost, giving Republicans control of the house and, in all probability, assured a stalemate in congress for the next two years.

On top of that, I've been voted out of a very significant personal relationship.

So it was nice to have one moment this week were I won something.

My church (okay, they're Unitarians, so it's more like atheists playing church) donates half of their collection basket money each month to a different charity or non-profit cause it supports. A few months ago I joined the committee that decides which charities they choose. I was interested in this committee in general, but I was mainly a one-issue joiner: to get a local health care organization on their list of monthly charities for next year.

I had met the director of the local health care organization a few years ago and have been impressed with her drive and the organization's mission to advocate for local health care concerns.

So I joined the committee, went to some meetings, and this week we held the annual meeting where they decide on donations for the next year. The meeting was much larger than usual, since anyone could attend and talk up the charity they nominated. I spoke about my pet charity, pointing out that health care advocacy seems like a very timely cause. There were about 20 organizations submitted, which meant eight of them (40%) wouldn't make the cut.

After we'd discussed the merits of each organization, we voted by anonymous circular sticker, a system that would be too long and boring to describe here. When all the stickers were counted, my pet charity was tied with one other for the 12th spot. Since there are 12 months in a year, only one of them could make the cut. It was disappointing that so few people voted for my health care cause. Would all my efforts-- my main reason for joining this committee-- all be for nothing?

They decided to have a run-off vote between the two groups tied for the last spot. So once again I had to campaign for my charity. I gave an impassioned speech about why mine was the better organization.

I think there was an obvious reason why mine was better. The other organization was one for children and women. Four other organizations dedicated to children and women had already made the cut, and none dedicated to health care had. Honestly, if the had been the other way around, I totally would have argued for the other organization. One person brought up the lame counter-argument that supporting children and women is supporting health care, but luckily, the electorate didn't fall for it. My charity won in a landslide.

Because of my efforts, this organization will now get an infusion of money from my church. (I have no idea how much that typically is.) It feels good to have made a small difference in the fate of a local charity.

It doesn't feel so good know I beat women and children to do it, though.


This reminds me of the time I joined the diversity committee at my college for the sole reason of getting Martin Luther King Day listed in the college calendar. The college observes it by canceling classes, but for a conspicuously suspicious reason, they never listed why in any of their printed schedules. It was the only day off all year that had that distinction. Through my persistence of trying to get an answer for this, they finally agreed to change it.

That was three years ago. Maybe in another three years I'll do something else that makes the world a tiny bit better.

It's little things, I know, but sometimes you have to take a victory where you can get it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I have just discovered you. I have read only this last one carefully, but scanned the others.

I have found a treasure trove of

If I lived in your state I would vote for you for any office you
ran for - and I think you should!
We need more passion and conviction in our local, state, and federal offices.

Thank you for being so passionate for worthy causes. Keep it up.