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An Unexpected Moment in Giving Back

Published March 14, 2022 by Brooke

Marketing Manger, Brooke Hanford, recently attended Learning Together’s annual fundraiser  – the Rock, Paper, Scissors Showdown. Her family came in 3rd in the contest – not too shabby – but below is her real take-away from the evening.


“There are times when I find myself groaning inside about something I committed to attend over the upcoming weekend. Call it selfish, tired from the week, or just plain lazy…occasionally it happens.

On any given Tuesday morning when I’m in “work mode” – fully caffeinated and ready to tackle the day’s challenges – a charitable event on Saturday evening is right up my alley. (YES – let’s do this thing!!!) But on Saturday morning while cleaning up from a family breakfast and thinking ahead about many loads of laundry, and/or floors that need to be mopped, and/or kitty litter that needs to be changed, and/or a dozen other things I could rattle off, that SAME charity event doesn’t sound quite as appealing. (UGH – what was I thinking?)

Mind you, my groaning is never actually audible. I have 2 tween-aged kids with eagle-hearing whom I regularly instruct NOT to “moan and groan” when I ask them to do something they don’t want to do. If you’re a parent to kids you know what I’m talking about. If you’re a parent to a cat, try calling them to cuddle in your lap when you’ve had a hard day. That empty, unfeeling gaze they cast your way before looking elsewhere and then walking away is basically the same thing you’d get from a tween who you’ve just offended by instructing them to make their bed and put some laundry away. I digress…

But here’s something interesting I’ve noticed…I don’t ever recall a time when I committed to a charitable event and came back from it with the same sulkiness. Instead I feel energized, hopeful…powerful in a way. And that little bit of good that I did while I was there – whether it was volunteering or making a donation – is amplified by all the other people who made the same choice and showed up. One person can do a little, but a group of people with a common cause can do SO much good!

This past weekend I was hit with just such an event. We had a busy Saturday ahead…several scheduled events fell on the same day. And even though my family was planning to attend this event together, and I had really been looking forward to it earlier in the week, I’d be lying if I said I was excited when 4:00 PM Saturday rolled around and it was time to head out.

Thirty minutes later we arrived at Big Boss Brewing Company. We were there to support an all-inclusive school called Learning Together through their annual Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament fundraiser. The event was both engaging and fun. We participated in silent auction bidding and purchased a ticket for the raffle item. We planned our family strategy for the bracket-style Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament. (Turns out the entire strategy was to buy our way back in through a donation to Learning Together if we lost in the first round of competition.) And we enjoyed a delicious BBQ dinner. Despite all the fun my oldest kid must have asked me 3 times in the first hour when we would be able to go home. I sighed (on the inside, mind you) but smiled and reminded her we were there for a good cause and I didn’t know when we would go home.

And then after a while, as fundraisers tend to do, it turned serious. The auctioneer got our attention and a husband & wife came up to the microphone and began to speak about their experience with Learning Together. They spoke from the heart about their two sons, and as I felt the weight of their words it occurred to me to look at my kids. Instead of the sullen tweens anxious to leave, I saw two engaged and attentive children staring at the stage enraptured with what these people were saying. I’m sure they had never before heard adults speak like this – bearing their hearts to strangers, telling us their fears and challenges in a very real and unfiltered way. My youngest – a sensitive kid, like her Mom – had misty eyes when she looked back at me. After those few minutes of sharing were over my kids clapped and smiled. And not just the polite “I will clap because that’s what people are doing” clap. This was something they felt inside that had to make it out into the world. I will be forever grateful for that moment, when the community that I thought I had come to give back to, gave so much more to me.

For the record I was not asked again by either of the children when we would get to go home. Instead, when we offered to sneak out about 20 minutes before the end of the event because it was getting so late they both asked if we could stay. And we did.

NOTE: I would be remiss to overlook the generosity of my employer in this. My family and I were able to attend Learning Together’s Rock-Paper-Scissor’s tournament as part of a corporate sponsorship from York Properties. The York family has a long history of civic engagement and community support and I am honored to be a part of the company.”