Benevolence: Definition: well meaning and kindly; (of an organization) serving a charitable rather than a profit-making purpose.
Synonyms: charitable, kind, benign, benignant, kindly.
When I was growing up, our church had a benevolent fund. The plate was passed around, very casually, after the very somber communion service. This is my first memory of the word benevolent. It was just something that we took part of, as we cared for those who came to the church, or used the church’s programs.
Growing up, my parents were very benevolent: giving financially when they can, sharing what they did have with those who didn’t have at all, and giving a supportive phone call to those who needed to be cheered. I can remember having couples, students, singles, and single moms with their children over for a good Sunday dinner after church. It was fun to learn about new cultures, new theologies, new theories, new music over the afternoon- it was also good to be able to be kind to someone who was new to the church, was visiting or even a missionary on furlough.
Being benevolent started as a child for me. I was always the kind hearted kid that got hurt emotionally for being too kind. I had a tendency to do good things for the neighbours around: from keeping the lonely, older gentleman around the corner company as he walked my part of the block, to sharing our (my sister and I) artwork and to finally being able to supply the neighbourhood with Girl Guide cookies.
In my teen years, I would volunteer my time in the summer to a horseback riding school for the physically and mentally challenged. I would volunteer my Friday after school hours to both the adult and youth aquatic division of the Special Olympics. I learned about diversity, self esteem, responsibility and love during those many hours in the pool or in the barn. I also had the pleasure of being a part of daily miracles- all because I gave of my time.
In my adult years, I have worked for non profits my entire working years. I have worked for charities, raised awareness for the charities, and participated in many different fund raising adventures- like sitting on the rooftop of a homeless shelter, in -15 weather, in a tent in the middle of December! (With 2 of my favorite people who have touched my life)
This has shaped me. I am a person that seeks to find the love of mankind, which in turns brings my desire to promote others’ happiness.
To bring a smile to someone else’s day brightens mine.
To make someone laugh causes my laughter to be jollier.
To give away my last dollar in order for someone to afford something that they need makes my day.
Benevolence is more than just giving money- it’s handing out smiles, hugging that co-worker who is hurting, putting the dirty dishes where they belong, and perhaps spending time with a shut-in. It is being kind, doing good, being generous.
When we are kind, it causes a chain reaction- Let’s be the first one in the chain today!