To the Editor:
We live in a country divided. Whether the issue is economic, political or otherwise, that divide appears to be widening as time passes. However, as a community, while we may hold vastly differing opinions, we do not also have to be divided. Yet, many times we are just that. It’s time that we, as a community, do something about this divide.
I’m going to digress for a moment, and I’ll return to my opening statement with an idea. I’d like to write a few words about a friend of mine, Jim Uitermarkt. I’ve known Jim since elementary school days through baseball games on the Presbyterian Church lawn, countless basketball games and several athletic teams as we made our way through Knoxville Junior High and Knoxville High School. While going through all of those experiences, I got to know Jim well enough that it comes as no surprise to me that he has become a significant member of our community. He’s an excellent teacher and coach, and he’s a wonderful father. However, what makes him, in my eyes, so significant to our community is what he and his wife, Angie, have done in the way of leading the growth in the Coaches vs. Cancer event at KHS. He and his staff could have easily stopped at pink uniforms and pink ice cream at the concession stand for the event with a half-hearted effort at fundraising. Instead, the efforts of Jim, Angie, their families, the athletes and countless others have shown that great feats are possible with a little inspiration and a lot of help. Even when the talking boxes are letting us know how tough things are in the world, our community helped make Knoxville’s event one of the top fundraisers nationwide.
I’ll now get back to my idea. It’s simple and anyone may take part. What if each of us donated $5 each month to a local charity? We receive multiple opportunities each year to purchase t-shirts, wrist bands, and anything else sold to raise funds for the latest crisis or tragedy. They are all worthy causes, and we rarely think twice about giving our support. Yet, since we’ve been seemingly fortunate around Knoxville, many wonderful groups struggle to get by, let alone accomplish their missions.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of Knoxville is 7,319 people. If even half of our population chose to participate in this idea, over $18,000 would make its way to great organizations in our community EVERY MONTH! I’ll add my disclaimer here: I have no desire to direct funds to my favorite charity; I simply want Knoxville to prosper. If we could find a way to provide over $200,000 of new monies to our community annually, imagine the possibilities! So, this month, choose a local charity, and simply send them $5. Next month, do the same thing. Maybe you’ll choose the same charity; maybe you’ll spread it around. Either way, we all have the opportunity to help make a difference. One more thing: you aren’t limited to $5. If you’d rather make it $25 or $50 each month, even better! Just know that whatever you do will help in a way far greater than you might imagine.
I’ll close with a paraphrased statement from a speaker I heard in Dallas last week. He said there are countless definitions of success, depending on with whom you are speaking, and we have countless successful people in the world. But, what about being significant? Significance trumps success every time.
Thanks to Jim and Angie for being significant, and thanks to all of you who find a way to make your $5 become significant in the months to come.