One of my childhood favorite Aesop’s Fables is the story of the lion and the mouse. In short: a mouse wandering through the forest woke a sleeping lion, and was captured beneath his big paws. Begging for his life, the mouse promised one day to help the lion. The lion scoffed, “How can you help me?” Regardless, the lion let him go. A few days later, the lion was captured by hunters, trapped, upset and roaring. The mouse scurried over to see what had happened to the lion and saw him all tied down and caught up in the hunter’s net. So the mouse nibbled and chewed on the rope until it tore, allowing the lion to escape and live.
It has always reminded me that I can do anything. Being small doesn’t matter. I can try. And I can do.
And that comes to light now more than ever. Last night my personal efforts were hailed as a small “coffeehouse gathering,” which won’t get the attention, recognition, or numbers it would need to spread awareness. It immediately made me feel insignificant, offended, crushed, brushed off…attacked. But today I remembered this fable. And I saw all that has been accomplished since my diagnosis. My small efforts are making a big difference.
I do not have to be beneath the umbrella of an organization or corporate structure or pyramid scheme or group to bring awareness, raise funds, or influence lives. I can do it. I don’t have to answer to rules or regulations. All of the funds I raise go directly to a charity of my choosing. There is no middle man. No misinterpretation of my intentions. No misappropriated funds. My vision remains true to itself. I remain true to myself. And, regardless of it’s scale, it is making a difference, in my life, and the lives of those who choose to be a part of it. And I’ve made several new, close friends and EndoSisters during this process.
Years ago, I was the Fundraiser Chair for a large nationwide event. Profits raised from the event were going to a good cause. A great cause. But what I learned after sitting in that chair for two years was that not all of the monies raised (registration fees or donations) went to the charity’s programs. Some was paid out to vendors, security, the City for permits, rent for the venue, t-shirts, advertising (print, radio, and video), “appreciation awards”, etc. And the out-of-pocket costs incurred by the Chair Members were also reimbursed out of the money raised. It was terribly disheartening.
Some chapters of organizations are able to retain the funds they raised for their own efforts; and not giving it to the parent organization to appropriate the funds toward outreach, awareness, research, etc. It remains in the pockets of the local chapter, for their local governing body to determine how best to interpret the Parent’s Mission Statement and intent. Be aware.
I’ve also since learned that the monies donated to charities may not be going toward outreach, awareness, or whatever you may have thought it was. This is further muddied by organizations that house chapters, and with each chapter having it’s own governing board, the accountability may become fuzzy or gray. Dozens of charities have been caught misappropriating funds or abusing their patrons. Charity Watch is a group that puts these organizations on blast : naming names and placing the facts in black and white for us to read. You can read some of their public shaming here.
Before you donate your time or money to any charity or charity event, please do your research. I’ve done mine with the E.F.A. and support their efforts, and will continue to do so. Make sure that your time, energy, and monies are being focused where you desire. Do not feel bullied by the Lion.
And we can pretty much go online and follow the money trail, at least tax-wise, for charities. Citizen Audit allows you to locate a charity, read up on their legal status, and even review their tax documents. For example, in 2012 the E.F.A. filed theirs, which we can read here. And you can always ask any charity for an accounting breakdown or even their financial statements in the hopes of seeing what programs, efforts, etc. past donations have gone to.
So I’ve rambled. Strayed from my original topic. Whoops. Back to it:
You can be a Mouse working for a Lion. Just be sure that your time, effort, and money is going toward what you want it to. And, please, do not let the delegation of others wear you down to the point where you lose your passion, are stressed, or overwhelmed. Move on.
Or you can be a Mouse working with other Mice.
Or you can be a Mouse working with other Mice and with the Lion.
Or you can be a Mouse working alone.
Either way : Make a difference. Make waves. Cause ripples. Bring change to this world. But do it for yourself in a way that will not compromise who you are, what you believe in, or what you stand for.
Small, seemingly insignificant “coffeehouse gatherings” can bring big change, awareness, and a sense of community. As can large corporate-sponsored events. We can all make a difference, alone, with a larger group, or even with an association or corporation. Do it in a way that’s best for you.
Yours, The Mouse