Written as part of Bodler Giving's Global Givers initiative by a regional partner.
The first event I attended as a donor was called Gift leading to Gift, an auction of abilities where I bid for and won a barista class (barista is the specialist in preparing coffee), and one should note I don’t drink coffee.
I had reached a certain personal and professional level and felt I had to give something back to the community, something more than just a financial contribution around Easter and Christmas. I wanted to offer something from what I was able to accomplish and from what the society had helped me achieve. Maybe the fact that I do not have children also mattered (I only have two cats).
Strangely, I realized I didn’t know where to go. Even if I had been involved in many CSR projects as part of my job, I didn’t find it easy to simply knock on one or another organization’s door and offer my support. But as most times things happen in life just like that, the “answer” came by itself. Before Christmas of 2011 I received an invitation from a colleague, whose husband was going to be an MC at a fundraising event organized by PACT Foundation, an NGO that does community development in south Romania.
I was quite familiar with the community development concept. During 2002-2007 I worked for the Delegation of the European Commission in Romania, at the Press and Communication Office, and in 2006, the last year before Romania’s accession to the EU, the entire information and communication campaign was focused exactly on this community development concept, on the ideas to unite communities and do something for your own one.
Nevertheless, I was not familiar with the “abilities auction” concept and I was curious to learn more. I clearly understood what was happening only when the event began. I recall that evening very well, which I have shared quite often with my friends. As I have mentioned before, I don’t drink coffee, but I liked a lot the idea of the barista class and thought it would be a good opportunity to learn a few small secrets to put in practice when I have guests.
It was a very special evening and I loved both the idea and the people. Afterwards I participated in other events and got more and more involved. Everything happened smoothly, naturally, and in time I have come close to the foundation PACT and become a regular donor. I have also joined the Direct Debit program, through which I donate a certain amount of money each month.
What has attracted me to PACT? Among others reasons, the fact that it is a smaller organization attracted me. I didn’t want to try more in order to pick some “best one.” I found it unfair both to those organizations and to myself. Through my last job, as PR Coordinator with an international law firm, I had the chance to meet many associations and NGOs, but felt that PACT suited me, that it matched my soul.
One of the moments that deeply impressed me along with the collaboration with the foundation happened within another fundraising event, Donor Circle, where several representatives of the rural communities supported by PACT came in front of the audience to present and advocate for their projects. One of the speakers, a lady, shared with us the big joy she had when she succeeded to take the children in the community on a trip to a monastery, and that was the very first time when those children had gone beyond the boundaries of their village.
I was impressed and sad at the same time. And I thought also of the differences between people. There are persons who live with hundreds, thousands lei per day, and others who have only a few lei to spend for the daily basket. It is sad that this is happening in a country where things should be different. And I am thinking of my nephew who is 14 now, and who has been given everything he has wished for and travelled all over the world. When he grows up a little bit more, I will tell him a story from the community, about people, the same way my grandparents told me when I was a child. They raised me since I was two months old to when I finished 4th grade. At that time I moved in with my mother and sister, but returned to visit my grandparents every weekend and holiday. I got on the 87 trolleybus, crossed Bucharest from one corner to another, and when I arrived it was dark, and my grandmother was waiting for me in the bus stop with the cat in her arms.
My grandfather was a priest, and a very gifted one. My grandparents took care of very many grandchildren, nephews and nieces, and during that big hunger in Moldavia, in 1946, they adopted an orphan and raised him until he graduated high school. My grandfather was the one who nurtured my love for reading and I think I have inherited the humanitarian and spiritual side of my personality from him too. He was very open-minded and never imposed on us rules connected to religion or Church. What was maybe a bit different in their house from others was that there were many icons on the walls, many religious books in the library and the fact that we said a small prayer before and after meals, and another thanking one before going to sleep. I sometimes say the latter in my mind even now, before I fall asleep.