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This is a space where Foundation staff share their thoughts and musings on giving and community:

Pessimism

Posted by: Stuart Comstock-Gay on 2/17/2015

On a somewhat regular basis, I share perspectives with fundholders at the Community Foundation. Today, I thought I would share with you my most recent observations.

You may have seen a remarkable bit of good news that made the rounds a few weeks ago: the Carter Center, a nonprofit philanthropic organization founded by former president Jimmy Carter, announced that guinea worm disease—a debilitating and nightmarish affliction that 30 years ago affected an estimated 3.5 million people in 20 countries—is on the verge of becoming only the second disease to be eradicated from the planet. It is a truly monumental accomplishment. 

How did this come to pass?  

As is often the case, it started with an individual and a belief. Having seen firsthand the effects of the disease, Carter was moved to act. That was an important start, but was just the beginning. Carter himself is the first to point out that the success of this effort could not have been imagined without the knitting together of resources from every corner of the private and public sector: foundations, private donors, government officials and agencies, health organizations, volunteers, equipment manufacturers, and many more. Indeed, as inspired as I am by the end result, I’m even more inspired by the number of the partnerships the effort entailed. Inspired, because I believe that had you asked the average citizen whether all these pieces could come together to achieve one goal, there would have been no shortage of pessimism.   

But pessimism does not cure disease. Nor does it feed or house people. It does not clean our rivers and lakes or improve our communities in any way at all. These things are made possible by the ideas, the beliefs, the values, and the dedicated efforts of people who give… who give to have an impact on our small corner of the world and beyond. People like you.   

And it most definitely does not happen in a silo. One of the greatest joys of working through the Community Foundation and—for me—working at the Community Foundation, is the sense of being part of something bigger. Our family includes more than 650 charitable funds, each one with individuals who care about their community and dream of how it can be made better, by working together. I have the privilege of bearing witness to your efforts and theirs, and I can assure you that from where I sit, I see no pessimism, just belief, hard work, and results. From where I sit, I see the power of better together.

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