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Philanthropy Part 2: It's all about friendship

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 Many of us have seen the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. Throughout the movie the father contends that all English words really come from Greek words. This does happen to be the case with the word “philanthropy”. It comes from two Greek words; philo - meaning friendship and anthropos –meaning man or humanity. As a parish priest for 28 years, I confess that at times it was easier to guilt people into giving than to establish a real friendship with them. Sorrowfully, fundraising often takes this approach.

If in fact, philanthropy is a friendship, then it implies that it is a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties. Each person involved enjoys the relationship and is nurtured by it. When we look at the ministry of Christ, we see that in the Gospel of John, He calls His disciples “friends”. We call God in our worship the only Philanthropos, which is the “friend of man”. When He asked the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give it to the poor and come follow Him, he was not just asking him to part with his possessions; he was inviting Him to become his friend. What is so remarkable about this is that God actually would want and seek our friendship. FOCUS North America is seeking true philanthropists, not in terms of giving great or small amounts, but those who wish to enter into a relationship that will be a blessing to them and the ones who benefit from their giving.

 One last thought…I was honored to be at the Gabby Awards last week in Chicago. It was the first ever award ceremony to honor Greek Americans who excelled in so many different fields. One such field was for philanthropy. I thought to myself… all of us will eventually be separated from our wealth...when we are lying out horizontally in our coffins. But no one was handing out awards for that, they were handing out the award to those who had the courage to do it willingly and with joy… they were still vertical, that is still alive and in this world!  Next week I want to talk about the effects of giving. Please consider establishing a friendship with FOCUS North America in the true sense of what philanthropy means!

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