Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The True Heartbeat of A Community

When I chose to auction my 25,000 tweet to benefit two local social profit organizations I anticipated the successful bidder would want me to promote their business, or perhaps their political aspirations. When I added a blog post of their choice to the deal I thought they might lay out their election platform, or the reason you should support their business. What I didn’t expect was that the winning bidder would be an anonymous philanthropist who would not only refuse to use the tweet or the post to further their own interests but who would turn the entire thing back on me with a request that I write not about politics or business but about the social profit sector. And so here I am today, with that obligatory blog post, but I do not feel writing about our local social profit sector is an obligation. It is, instead, a joy.

If someone stumbled upon this blog they might wonder about the term social profit. It refers, of course, to the non-profit organizations in our community, but I am an “early adopter” of the term social profit because I think it captures what they do with such accuracy. The term “social profit” indicates that the profit derived from these groups is not financial, but rather social. These groups don’t generate cash – they generate community, and social profits for the lives of all they touch.

When my adventure in blogging began I truly began to see the benefits of the social profit sector. I had always known about them, of course, but I hadn’t had a real sense of the importance of what they do in terms of our community. Industry and business are important, but the thread that weaves the social fabric of our community lies not with them but with the social profit organizations. They are the ones who bring together all the threads, tying them together in ways that create community and build strength. They are our warm blankets, our safety net, and our light in the dark. They are the ribbons that tie this community together.
Recently I was at the launch of the annual United Way fundraising campaign. I stood and looked around at all the faces, those who work in our social profit sector and the volunteers who support them. I looked around at a room bathed in a sea of United Way red and I saw community strength, commitment, and resolve. I saw a desire to make the world a better place. I saw, in fact, the incredible beauty of all of that, and more. I saw our community’s heart.

There is a heartbeat to a community, you see. It is not the occasionally erratic pulse of industry or the frenetic thump of politics. It is instead the steady rhythm of the social profit sector, a constant beating of a heart devoted to changing the world, and our community, for the better. This heartbeat, often soft and subtle and in the background, is much like our own physical hearts, far too often ignored unless it is in trouble and faltering. Only then do we realize the significance of that heartbeat, and our need for it to remain strong and steady. And just like our physical hearts I think we would do well to take the pulse of it on occasion, and ensure that it is beating just as it should, providing the rhythm of our community, and our strength.
When I auctioned off that 25,000 tweet and this blog post I did so to benefit the Fort McMurray SPCA and the Centre of Hope, two local social profit organizations that have touched my heart in so many ways. The SPCA has introduced me to so many wonderful people involved in that organization, and two of the Intrepid Junior Blogger’s much-loved creatures come from them (the second of which, Sirius Black cat, has a blog post devoted to him coming soon). The Centre of Hope introduced me to the amazing staff who work there meeting the needs of the homeless in our community, and through them I met individuals who changed my life – and my heart – with their stories of life on the street. These two groups will be the beneficiary of the winning bid ($425, with $75 added from me for a nice even number of $500), and it is to them and all the other social profit organizations, too numerous to name, that I dedicate this post. They are the heart of our community, and through their strength we find our own as a community. It is their heartbeat that sets the rhythm of this community, and I am profoundly grateful to them not only for the work they do every single day but for allowing people like me to be a part of it.

To the anonymous benefactor I say thank you, and thank you especially for giving me the task – and opportunity – of writing once again about the social profit sector in our community. Once again I have had the chance to touch that heartbeat, and feel the rhythm. Once again I have had the chance to recognize their importance and significance. And once again I have had the chance to acknowledge it here in this blog, which is a genuine joy.
The anonymous benefactor chose as their 25,000 tweet the following quote. I think it sums this all up very nicely, and puts into a few words what I feel, too. You are never alone in this little community of ours. All you have to do is listen closely – and hear the heartbeat.


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