The Daily WORD is EARL

The last line of a long e-mail sent by Eileen, a charity president, to a potential donor ends with a question, but not the usual, “Will you send us a generous donation today?”  

The charity is Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky, a cause my father championed for years. So, it felt absolutely right to read it for the first time on my porch while I was watching the birds.  In addition to my sorrow Earl is no longer with us and my pride in a father who lived his life well, I saw in the email a model for philanthropy. I prefer people causes; my father found more hope in rehabilitating birds of prey. Yet, the model for philanthropy is the same. Here are some excerpts from Eileen’s email:

Earl was the most wonderful supporter we ever had. I loved that man dearly. He appeared at our door probably 15 years or more ago. From that point on he did everything he could do to garner support for us and to contribute to us.

I once said to him “ I don’t mean to be rude but why are you doing this?”  “People do not give us money like this and I just don’t understand why you picked us?”  He said that he believed in what we were doing. That he had checked and that our reputation was without complaint and that we didn’t waste money on overhead and we were not part of the regular political establishment and that we did what we said we would.

He said he was tired of giving his money to groups that didn’t even try to do anything for themselves and he was tired of whiney people. So from now on he was giving his money to a group where something was actually done.

He bought us a badly needed van. If we needed a piece of equipment, he researched it and then bought it for us, he sat on our board of directors and kept a real scoundrel off from some of the key questions he asked the guy. In fact the guy was so uncomfortable with Earls 3rd degree that he asked did I have to have him on my board—I said that was not open for discussion.

At Christmas Earl wrote all his friends and asked them to send us a donation in lieu of a gift for him and when he died he requested donations come to us.

He was a man who did what he said he would and he really believed in us and stood behind us.

Did you know Earl?


He was, as they say, a tough act to follow – but he left enough birdseed on the path that “getting lost” is no excuse. Applying Earl’s standards to charities I have been involved with, BUILD Chicago comes closest to meeting them. The organization rehabilitates urban youth in jails and gangs.

Thanks to Earl, hundreds of healed raptors were released into the wild. It is time I stop throwing money in charity sink holes. Through BUILD, I can release healed youth into society.


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