On Giving Back
It is easy to take for granted the many things that make our world work. And, it is easy in these bumpy economic times to complain about the world and nation we live in.
Last Monday I was with my father, Joe Bernard, when he died at the age of 84. He was a man of extraordinary generosity. My father ran Bernard’s Garage, the family business, in downtown Milwaukie, Oregon for many years having followed in his father’s footsteps.
But the business was simply a platform for helping others.
My father gave his time, energy, passion and resources to everything he believed in. He served as mayor, chaired Milwaukie Providence Foundation, and served on the boards of the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel, LaSalle Catholic Prep High School – and many, many other organizations over the years. He was president of his national trade association, the Automotive Service Association, and was active in his church and the Republican Party. Through his work as a Scoutmaster and at his business he met and mentored many young men who kept in touch with him over the years.
Dad even ran a friend’s business for a couple of months as the friend recovered from a heart attack. And in his usual style, he refused to accept any pay for helping out. After his retirement he filled in full time running the North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce as they looked for a new director. Again, he refused pay.
If the phone rang and it was Joe Bernard calling, I am sure there were those who knew he was going to ask for money for his favorite charity. He asked without hesitation because he never raised money for an organization he had not supported financially himself.
Why was my father so generous? Why did he give so much back to this world?
The answer is simple: that’s just what he thought was right.
He didn’t think for a second about what he did. He just did what was right because that is what a person should do.
My father’s life is a testimony to generosity in an era with a pervasive “me-first” mindset. As we look at our fumbling economy and how governments around the world are struggling to deal with it, I know what my father would do and did do. Something.
That’s what inspires me to want to help. I can’t just standby and watch. My father never did that.
If we all do a part to give back, there is no challenge too big.