Friday, September 23, 2005

Everybody's working for the weekend

I went to a planned giving seminar (a.k.a. "how to get money from people when they die") at the Center for Nonprofit Management downtown yesterday with a couple of co-workers. The instructor read aloud this touching story about the founders of Stanford University to illustrate the “can’t judge a book by its cover” factor (i.e. unless you know otherwise treat everyone as though they have money).

The President of Harvard made a mistake by prejudging people and it cost him dearly.
A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly without an appointment into the president's outer office.
The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably didn't even deserve to be in Cambridge. She frowned. "We want to see the president," the man said softly. "He'll be busy all day," the secretary snapped. "We'll wait," the lady replied.
For hours, the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn't. And the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the president, even though it was a chore she always regretted to do. "Maybe if they just see you for a few minutes, they'll leave," she told him. And he signed in exasperation and nodded.
Someone of his importance obviously didn't have the time to spend with them, but he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office. The president, stern-faced with dignity, strutted toward the couple.
The lady told him, "We had a son that attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. And my husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus." The president wasn't touched; he was shocked.
"Madam," he said gruffly, "We can't put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery."
"Oh, no," the lady explained quickly, "We don't want to erect a statue. We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard."
The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, "A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical plant at Harvard." For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. He could get rid of them now.
And the lady turned to her husband and said quietly, "Is that all it costs to start a University? Why don't we just start our own?" Her husband nodded.
The president's face wilted in confusion and bewilderment.
And Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford walked away, traveling to Palo Alto, California, where they established the University that bears their name, a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.

Isn’t that just amazing? Well, turns out it’s complete bunk, but a nice sentiment anyway I guess.

Speaking of fundraising, I know you all have been meaning to get around to SPONSORING ME in the upcoming AIDS Walk LA. I am nearly half way to my fundraising goal! Muchos gracias to everyone who has supported me so far. Don’t worry if you haven't yet, there is still time. You may also be interested to know that APLA is using some of the money raised through the walk to fund grants for three AIDS organizations in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

It has been such a long week. Work has been insane and we have been very busy celebrating Ben's birthday this week. The Redskins won just for him and his birthday week on Monday (wasn’t that nice of them?). The Maceo Parker show we saw on Wednesday night at the Hollywood House of Blues was awesome, but I think I'm getting too old to be up until 1:30 on a work night. It was worth it though. I met a senior sales manager for the HOB at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Business Expo at Hollywood and Highland last evening (I was there for work, what else). He was nice and we chatted about the show, and they have a team for AIDS Walk. Awesome. Happy Friday! Hooray for the weekend!


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