My dad was a man of few words, but he would give the shirt off his back to help a friend, neighbor, or stranger in need. We didn't have a lot when I was growing up - my parents often struggled to make ends meet - but even when times were tough, they found a way to lend a hand or a few dollars to someone who needed it more. My parents were a great example for my brothers and me. They had a strong work ethic and often worked multiple jobs to provide for our family.
Although it probably took me too long to realize it, I think the example my parents set has led me to a career helping others. One of my most vivid memories of summers is volunteering with my parents for Little League. If we weren't on the field playing, we were learning about hard work, responsibility, and sharpening our math skills while running the concession stands. Year after year, our family would spend almost every summer night working (or playing) at the ballpark. Now that we're older and separated by miles, we look forward to an annual outing to a major league game -- it just doesn't feel like summer without baseball.
On the weekends my dad would wake us up early and we would head out with lawn mowers in tow. We mowed several yards; my dad always took the hardest part and as his only daughter, I got the easiest patch of grass. At the end of the day, dad would would pay us for our work - we thought he was just helping us earn some spending money, but I'm sure he had other lessons in mind. I may not have realized it then, but I see those lessons now.
We lost dad to cancer a few years ago. His strong, quiet presence and generosity will always be missed, but the lessons he taught us and the impressions he left will remain in our hearts forever. This Father's Day, I'm honoring dad by following his example and giving more to those in need in our community. We all have a few dollars to spare, even when times are tough.
Director of Community Impact - Stamford
United Way of Western Connecticut
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