Last October at the Minnesota Family Business of the Year Award ceremony, Murphy Warehouse Company received the Community Service and Philanthropy recognition. Laurie Murphy (Director of Quality Assurance for the company) was there, along with other members of the Murphy family and company employees. As a result of that recognition, Laurie was moved to write a thank you letter to her parents, aunts, uncles and other ancestors. It is a stunning and inspiring expression of gratitude and family values. (If you would like a copy of the letter, email me).
Laurie thanked her family for the values they taught, including religious values, honesty, and "giving back to the community in time, treasure and talents in thanksgiving for all of our blessings." She thanked the third generation, which includes her parents, for the precedent they established for her generation and for the fifth generation.
She stated that the Community Service and Philanthropy recognition honors her parent's generation, now octogenarians, for what they accomplished and for being such great role models. She noted how important it is not only to give, but also to roll up one's sleeves and dig into work that benefits the less fortunate.
Laurie's gratitude nobly expressed the importance of service and philanthropy. She took us beyond self importance to realize how connected and significant we are to one another. Laurie reminded us of the positive impact we have on family when we join together to serve others.
C. Michael Thompson reminds us in his book The Congruent Life that "service is on the outside like prayer is on the inside." It prompts a challenge to each of us to do more in our family businesses to strengthen the commitment to our communities especially in these challenging economic times.
Many non-profit organizations have seen painful financial cuts and desperately need both money and volunteer services. My hope is that at an upcoming family meeting, you will take a few moments to discuss what you can do as family to make a bigger contribution to your community.
For example, I have mentioned in previous articles, that I know of families who have worked together to host picnics and 4th of July fireworks for the St. Joseph's Home in Minneapolis. What worthy cause might your family and business support? Where might you add resources with a simple helping hand? The Murphy family walks their talk by living their family's values. Across the generations they instill true gratitude for the blessings of their lives. This does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as engaging your grandchildren in entry level service and philanthropy projects.
In my own family I continue to give "share checks" to my three oldest grandchildren--Kailey, Elijah and Kieran. They then talk with their parents (my children) to decide which charity or non-profit they want to support. For example, when Kailey (now 13 years old) was in 2nd grade, she was already raising money for the Heart Jump-A-Thon. There is no age limit for serving others. For helpful ways to teach your children about sharing visit www.sharesavespend.com.
As Laurie Murphy so aptly stated, "We all stand in the shadow of previous generations and owe them a debt of gratitude for their work and inspiration." If you are someone who makes New Year's resolutions, I suggest adding one: Express appreciation and continue the legacy of gratitude in your own family by demonstrating service and philanthropy in your community.
Walk the talk and live a life that includes service. It will likely cause your children to someday recognize how much they appreciate your legacy and leadership.