WANTED: Morgan County Residents Giving Back to Our Community

What’s not to love about Morgan County? We look forward to Friday nights at high school football games, sledding down the big hill at Jimmy Nash City Park, attending our favorite charity’s annual fundraiser, finding the best street view for the Fall Foliage Festival Parade, and watching our kids play sports, whether it’s baseball, football or soccer. More importantly, when disaster strikes such as a flood or tornado, we see people in our county at their best as many of us go above and beyond to help others in need.

Just like the Fall Foliage Festival depends on community support, so do the students participating in the Martinsville High School Marching Band.

However, when the disaster clean-up is over or our favorite sports season has ended, we return to life as usual. It’s human nature to react in the moment and then turn the focus back on us, but what if the things we loved no longer existed because no one, or very few, continued giving their time, talent and especially their treasure?

While helping others in times of urgent need is the right thing to do, we can’t stop there if we want Morgan County to thrive and prosper today and in the future.

“I look at our responsibility as human beings in two ways. We are responsible for the individual which is ourselves. We choose what behaviors, values, and character will shape us as well as the work we do, our education, and the person we want to become,” said Chris Page, Senior Pastor at Hoosier Harvest Church, Martinsville. “Then there is our corporate responsibility which is more important long-term because it represents everything outside of ourselves. It’s our responsibility to other people and our community. We use what we have to enhance the lives of everybody else.”

According to Page, the Biblical principle of “you reap what you sow” can be applied to every aspect in our society including education, the economy, and relationships. “We see it on an individual level, but not in a community. Until I got involved in the social sector, I really had no idea about the need of our community. We are intensely focused on the personal and then it expands to our families. It’s not a bad thing, but unless we’re touched by an issue, we’re not likely to do anything about it,” said Ed Kominowski, President of the Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC).

The “reap what you sow” became an eye-opener for Page when 15 years ago, someone asked him about his personal giving to the community. During the conversation, Page realized his giving efforts only went so far. “I thought because I loved Martinsville and Morgan County from a distance that it was good enough because I was a busy person. That conversation made me change my priorities and the way I looked at things. I can make a lot of money and keep it to myself, but when I share it with my family, church, business, and community, then all of those things are going to benefit. That’s why we’re here on earth. It’s our purpose to invest in other people with everything we have,” he added.

When we invest our money in the well-being of other people that’s when we build and help sustain our community.

The belief that the majority of charitable giving comes from people who earn a lot of money is a myth, according to Kominowski. “Statistics show that people who are middle-income earners or ‘making ends meet’ give a higher percentage of their annual income to charity. Higher-income individuals tend to give a smaller percentage,” he added.
Both Page and Kominowski agreed there’s a need to have more honest conversations about financial giving. “We need to think of it collectively and not just individually. There are roughly 70,000 people in Morgan County, and if everyone gave just a $1, we would have $70,000 to go towards something like additional after school programs for at-risk kids or job training for those needing work,” Kominowski said.

“I ask people in our church, do you love your church and most people say yes because they’ve made positive connections with others and they’re learning new things,” Page said. “Then I ask them so why don’t we have a plan to support the community we love? We need a plan. We function by emotion, and if there’s a sudden need, people come out in large masses to help. But, when the emergency is over, we go back to ourselves. We stop and we can’t do that.”

When individuals invest time and money in becoming the best version of themselves and then use their skills and money to invest in the work of a church or another nonprofit, the combined effort is what builds and sustains a community.

Giving must be intentional for real change to happen and be sustainable long-term. That’s why having a yearly plan is crucial.

“My wife, Dana and I decided a long time ago that we were going to be intentional givers. At that time, I was only making $6.50 an hour and her hourly wage was $7.50, so we didn’t have a lot of money left over. However, we started and that’s the key. We tested the ‘reap what you sow’ principle and it worked. We didn’t miss the money, and we were still able to go out to eat from time to time,” Page said. “I’ve always said that money comes to you if money can get through you. Ask a good giver if they’re struggling and they will tell you they’re not.”

Page believes there’s something inherent when we give intentionally because it becomes a divine action by giving purpose to someone. “Why wouldn’t we want to feel that purpose every month instead of once a year?” he added. “Everybody wins when we give corporately and intentionally.”

“Before I started intentional giving, I took for granted how difficult it was to be not only a giver, but a gracious giver. I learned that I receive just as much in giving when I give to others,” Kominowski added. “People think giving means it’s going to set them back financially, but when you start, you then realize it’s not true. If we were more intentional about our giving, even if 10% of us had a plan, we would be shocked at what could change in our community for the better.”

In Morgan County, we have real issues such as students needing mental health services, manufacturing companies wanting employees, and better overall health outcomes for individuals. These crises require real solutions and there are organizations already working on them, but it’s going to take everyone’s involvement.

Everyone can do something to make a positive impact in the lives of others. Your intentional giving, regardless of size, counts because when it’s combined with other generous givers, the total sum will have a lasting impact on the community we love.

Be an intentional giver and start your plan today. Give to CFMC who has real solutions to these real problems. Go to www.cfmconline.org to set up your monthly donation. You can also contact CFMC at info@cfmconline.org if you need more information.

CFMC’s mission is to connect donors and their charitable giving with our evolving community needs in order to enhance the quality of life for current and future generations through impact grantmaking. The vision of CFMC is to be the philanthropic leader and a catalyst in order to maximize available resources in our community.

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