I was at the grand opening of the Compton Skatepark in 2011, when the then retiring city council member Lillie Dobson thanked me for the work I did to raise money for the park. It was/is a shining light in the neighborhood around the Wilson Gym, and Council Member Dobson turns to me and says, "What you give, is what you get." It's taken some time to fully realize what that means (to me, at least). Attending the grand opening this past summer of the 500th skatepark I had some part of assisting, it struck me that what I, in my role at the Tony Hawk Foundation, have been figthing for in the course of the last decade has finally become ubiquitous--skateparks are now more the rule than the exception (but we still have far to go to give every kid access to a safe place to skate).
I've carried Lillie's words with me both through my professional endeavors, as well as in my private life. What it comes down to is, if you can help, you should. You're paying it forward, and karma will reward you in some way, at some point. Probably when you need it most. So give when you can (your time, your money, your support), and give to causes that maybe aren't your core issues. Fan it out a little. A little can go so far in the right hands.
I support causes that inspire me, rather than only those that affect me or my loved ones. Because charity isn't helping those you know. It's about helpng those you don't know, and will likely never meet. But you create an intangible link to them, and their fate. And that in turn spreads your reach, the affect you have in the world. Your karmic footprint, so to say. Build a legacy of invisible links that weaves you into the fabric of humanity (or ecology, or the animal kingdom). Give of yourself, and learn what it is to live in this world.
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