Well, we set out to see if we could do a simple thing and that was to try to put on an event to raise money and give it to a family that was victim of the World Trade Center bombing. Somewhat naive maybe, but none the less, that was the idea. Also if we could, we wanted to tell the story about how we did it, and if we were successful, document everything so that others might have a road map in the event that they too want to do the same thing. We realized that time is of the essence. People need help today, not two years from now. In addition, we felt that if we could do this, we would become personally involved and raise our level of connection to what happened in New York.
The real hope is that others will see that it's possible. That it is possible for regular people to take some control over events and maybe make some changes, as insignificant as they may seem, nevertheless for the better. That it is possible to do what others much more qualified seem to be having a hard time doing --- to get money to the families of victims and, at the same time, stay involved and get involved. It was never our intention to profit from this even though all involved have profited immeasurably in human terms for being a part of this. It does make you feel good and, on a personal level, gives us a chance to pay back a little that was so freely given to us by this country.
First we learned that it was possible to do the event. We did it. We had a successful Golf Tournament that not even rain could stop once we had momentum. We raised enough money that we were able to donate $10,000.00. We also did this from start to finish in less than 6 weeks. We learned that people loved the idea. And every time we mentioned it to someone, they walked away at least saying, "I hope you do it." Look, everyone is aware of the Charity situation. Some people were skeptical but supportive. At the end of the day, at the dinner ceremony, when we said, "That's a wrap," we got a standing ovation from everybody for everybody. People did go away with a smile and the feeling that this was a little better tournament than they're used to. So we learned that it is possible, that people would get involved, and that they would do it again.
We also learned another very important thing. That although we sent many letters and invitations to media and local and state politicians, none responded--with one exception. Sen. Feinstein's office sent a representative who we were very grateful for. The few that did inquire about it seemed to expect we were a part of some sort of larger organization. And it seemed that when they noticed it was just a bunch of people with no connection other than they wanted to raise money, they seemed not to be very interested. We e-mailed Bill O'Reily (The champion of the Charity Bashing) several times... not a peep. It would have been great to get some exposure and let others know what we were doing, but it didn't happen, at least not yet. So we didn't do too well in that department.
We also learned that it was not as easy as we thought to find a family to donate the money to. This is the most important and rewarding part of our thing. Here is where we learned about funds and about politics. Our goals here were very simple. We were not trying to find the most deserving or the saddest story or the most tragic losses. Just a family, any family. We didn't want to hit a Bulls Eye, just the Target. Anyone who lost a wife or husband or any loved one for that matter is tragic; to lose someone in the manner in which this happened is incalculable. It is impossible to understand their pain unless you're one of them. We didn't even consider that they might not even want the money. And really it was never a case of charity. It was a matter of connection: "Please take this. Over a hundred of us one day played a round of golf with you on our minds. Maybe this money would be better spent by you than us, and frankly we benefited much from this ourselves." Hopefully this may solve one very small problem and if we could do that, then we did hit a Bulls Eye.
In the process of our search we learned about a fund that seems to be doing some great work. It's called Windows of Hope. This fund is set up by the owners of Windows of the World, a restaurant at the top of The World trade Center and it's to help the families of the restaurant workers throughout the complex. We decided to donate 25% of our proceeds to that fund. Our goal was always to donate as directly as possible and that's why we chose to give directly to a family and to encourage others to do the same.
When we did find our family it was completely by accident, and that's just how it was supposed to happen. And that was that. One of the organizers of this event is co-worker with a woman whose cousin lost her husband in one of the towers. She has two little boys, a four year old and a two year old. I could tell you about our conversation but what's the point. Imagine if you can that she is one of the lucky ones, that they found her husband early on and were able to identify the body in parts. Also imagine her little boys not being able to play with airplanes or their entire future shattered in an instant because some people flew commercial airliners into her husband's job ... and on purpose. So we learned that you need to do your homework, but in the process it's a journey of discovery. And last but not least, we learned that we golfers will play under any conditions especially if we are motivated by the right reason. You don't get a much better reason than something like this.
So what did we accomplish and what did we learn. We put on a golf tournament and we learned that not only did we have fun doing it, but that we actually did some good. We accomplished setting up a web page to chronicle our experience so that maybe someone else may do likewise. And we learned to tell our story, and to make necessary changes along the way because even though you lay out your goals at the beginning, you may not make then all. But you try. You never know. We found a fund in Windows of Hope that we felt good about, that was never in our plans. We learned that it's a lot of work and you have to do your homework. And you have to stay on it constantly, but if you do, you won't regret it, no matter which way it goes. Because no matter which way it goes, you went the right way, you tried to help. I remember what they said about Columbus. When he left, he didn't know where he was going, when he got there he didn't know where he was, and when he came back he didn't know where he'd been. He just knew he'd been somewhere. All I know is we just raised $10,000.00. We got about 120 people involved and we are giving to the right people and are a little better for it. ... So that's a wrap.