At the bottom of this column it reads “Dick Hagerty is an Oakdale real estate developer, active in community non-profits.”
The second part of that statement describes a very important part of my life and my lifestyle. Soon after arriving in Modesto as a young CPA, I began seeking ways I could serve my community and fellow man.
At the urging of my accounting partner, I joined the Jaycees, an organization that not only has lots of fun but also does great community work including assistance to needy families. Soon after it was a major service club, Kiwanis, followed by a term on the new MJC Foundation board as treasurer.
Fifty years later, I’m still serving on 14 non-profit boards and chair three of them. To the best of my fading memory, I’ve served on 31 boards, and I might still remember a few more.
Involvement in charity work demands that you ask yourself what motivates you to join a board and how do you prioritize those efforts that you support.
In my case, the motivation started with my parents teaching our family that “giving back” was an essential part of our lives. In addition, as a Christian, I knew what Jesus said so clearly, “The poor you will always have with you ...” which followed Proverbs 21, “Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.”
As to my own priorities, they fall generally in categories of assistance to the poor and enabling less advantaged folks to improve their economic and social lifestyles.
The first category is best fulfilled through organizations such as the Salvation Army. I have served more than 110 years of total time on various Army boards, including 47 years on the Modesto Advisory Board, 34 years on the National Board and on various other Army entities. Presently, I serve on five Salvation Army boards.
Also in this category would be healthcare. I served on both the Memorial Hospital board and the oversight expansion board for Oak Valley Hospital. I chair the board of a Philippines medical mission and have served on several international medical missions, primarily those focusing on community health and development.
The second category includes 10 years on the Stanislaus Library Foundation board, as well as chairing the Stanislaus Alliance and the Workforce Development Board. These agencies all work to improve literacy, education, work skills and provide ways for less educated workers to find a valuable niche in our labor market. Only through improving these abilities will the number of unemployed people in our community go down.
I spent three years teaching at Stanislaus State; I have served on two seminary boards and I conduct mentoring and focus workshops for various agencies to improve operational and administrative efficiencies.
How do you get involved?
First establish your goals and priorities. Then look around for agencies or organizations that fill the needs you wish to address. Volunteer to help with no expectations of anything other than the reward of knowing you have improved the lives and outlook of some of our less fortunate neighbors.
Loosen up the purse strings and provide some financial support. This is not just a Christian imperative, but one shared across most faith communities. Giving alms to the poor is one of the “Five Pillars” of Islam. Buddhism celebrates those who are “devoted to charity” and who “delight in sharing and giving.” The same is true in Sikhism, which insists the true path leads one to “support the disenfranchised.”
A word of caution: Make sure your giving and the amount of time you expend is “strategic.” That is, focus on those few areas and entities where your support will actually make a difference. (I learned that from studying Warren Buffet’s teaching on charity.)
Take a chance. There are a hundred agencies in our town that would love to hear from you and have you roll up your sleeves and get involved.
Dick Hagerty, an Oakdale real estate developer active in non-profits. Send comments to email@example.com.