Over the past year, my blogposts have included stories about a number of charity heroes. I’m so proud to call many who work incredibly hard to make our world a better place, my friends. Folks like Kris Jacober, Denise Resnik and Rob Scheer have been the topic of prior blogs. Their work is inspirational, and they have greatly influenced my life.
I had the opportunity to see a charity hero in action when I volunteered and worked alongside Kathy Donaldson for many years. This dynamic woman has dedicated most of her life to helping kids, volunteering her time and energy to raise up those in need. While serving as a law enforcement officer in Ohio in her younger days, a perpetrator threw Kathy down the stairs, breaking her back and leaving her with permanent physical disabilities, not to mention – pain. That event ended her career. Kathy overcame these challenges by volunteering her time to help – in the schools, at church and everywhere she could be useful. With her husband Paul (now deceased), they were a formidable force in community service, even receiving the 2004 Hon Kachina award from the Roman Catholic Diocese for outstanding Arizona volunteers.
I met Kathy more than 20 years ago when I learned that she had started a small volunteer-based charity and could use some help. I put up my hand to assist with accounting and tax needs, and Kathy pounced! She asked me to step in as Board Treasurer, and we began a partnership that spanned more than two decades, working together to make a difference in the lives of children and families who were in crisis. Kathy has always been there to lend a helping hand whenever and wherever it was needed, in her words, “one dream, one child, one family at a time.”
Kathy founded the organization as a promise to her sister, Patty, who was dying of cancer. On Patty’s deathbed, she asked Kathy to perform one good deed a day to make our world a better place for all. With this simple concept, Kathy made a commitment to Patty, and has spent her life performing those good deeds. The work she began has brightened the holidays for boys and girls who otherwise wouldn’t have a gift to open at the holidays, and has provided clothing, beds and more to children in foster care. Truly changing our community for the better.
Kathy has never sought out the spotlight. She always told me that when people operate with a pure heart to help the little children, good things will happen. Oh my, what good things have happened, thanks to Kathy’s pure heart.
Especially in these times of trauma, there are some things that we all should easily come together around. One of those is recognizing that the work done by charity heroes in our community is vitally important and worthy of our gratitude. The folks who give everything they’ve got to help others are very special people who deserve a hearty round of applause. This is my round of applause for a friend, a mentor and a hero.
Kathy Donaldson has devoted her life with virtually no personal reward to doing one good deed a day – and the number has tallied into the tens of thousands now. Our world is a better place thanks to all that she has made possible. Thank you, my friend, for your pure heart to help the little children. Our universe needs more people like you!
Dan Shufelt, the former CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, has been involved in the charity world as an executive and grant maker for many years.
If you enjoy learning of caring people and the amazing work they devote their energy to advance, be sure to sign up for Dan’s blog (see sign-up form below).