The Charitable Arm

       I started to title this page ‘The Charitable Arm, But Not a Leg’ but I was afraid no one would click on it.  Bear with me, I’m not one to lean on folks.  I like to let people know what I think, but I don’t like to tell anybody else how to think or live.  I ain’t that good.  One other thing; I don’t think charity is all about money.  Going out and doing things can have an even bigger impact.  God gave me just the right amount of musical ability for a doctor; enough to have fun and do some good, but not enough to get confused and give up my day job.  As a result, we’ve raised a bunch of money (and awareness) over the years for The American Heart Association, the Cancer Society, the local Women’s Shelter, the Homeless Shelter, and other causes; far more than what our family budget would allow us to contribute and still feed the young’uns and send them to college.  

        It’s strange, though. When we gave our time it was truly altruistic.  I never played in hopes of commercial promotion of my band, but very often the next week someone would call and want to hire us for a paying gig.  (I still knew better than to give up my day job, though.  As one fellow said on Mandolin Cafe, “Could you turn up the talent in the monitors, please?”)  The old saying of “it’s hard to give something away” proved true many times over.

        So, with that long-winded introduction, this page is to tell you about some of the charities I consider important and give a little to most years.  I want to make it clear that just because you are my reader you are under no obligation to donate to any of them, but I did want to let you know who they were.  In the event something bad happened to me or any of my family don’t send me any money; we aren’t wealthy but we have everything we need.  I never did believe in the bumper sticker that said ‘He who dies with the most toys wins.”  But if we had a family tragedy and you felt sorry for me you could send some to any of these outfits and I would be okay with it.  (Of course if I’m dead I guess I won’t know unless God happens to mention it to me one day.) 

          I just decided to create this page on New Year’s Day, 2010.  I’m a slow learner as far as computers, so it will take me a while to get the links and logos up to speed.  In fact, I might not finish it before tax season, because I’m not sure where all I sent a little money last year.  Also I invite you to list your favorites in the comments with the disclaimer to my readers I have zero manpower (I’m the only writer for this electronic rag) or the time to do the leg work required to verify the validity of any listing posted by others.

          My first order of business is to give some to the church, and I think our local United Way is a good thing.  But if you choose those also, I believe it best for you to support those organizations in your own community, so I’m not gonna list my personal ones here.  I feel the same way about my alma maters; dance with who brung ya and support the folks who got you there.  And one other disclaimer.  I give to some organizations without careful scrutiny of their books.  If you ever realize I’m involved with one that is bogus, I hope you will let me know so I can take it off the page.  I don’t want anyone taken because of my influence. 

        So, here they are, and in no particular order.

      The IBMA is a professional trade organization for bluegrass music.  They are not solely a charitable organization, but do have divisions dedicated to charitable causes.  One of my favorites is ‘Bluegrass in Schools,’  which has grant money available to send some of the pros out to teach kids how to play. My wife and I did some of this along the way, but as amateurs we never applied for the grant money.  (And do not believe it appropriate for us to do so)  The IBMA also has some funds available for musicians with medical issues and financial difficulties. Their link is:  www.ibma.org

www.bluegrassmuseum.org  When you send them a  check, you’ll get a pass to the museum and if you send a touch more you get some cool DVDs or CDs.

www.wncw.org/ListenLive.html   WNCW 88.7 Radio.  You might think it strange I list a radio station, but with all the changes  in funding of the arts public radio and TV have taken a beating.  They rely on us to stay on the air.  If someone is supportive of true art, I’m all for ‘em, if for no other reason so pop culture and celebrity don’t take over the world.  Like the Bluegrass Museum, they give you something in return for your donation.  For my donation in 2009 they sent me a sturdy duffel bag I use for my gig gear, but even if they only gave me the programming, that’d be enough.  You don’t have to be in range of the airwaves to listen.  In Harvey County you can catch it on Internet stream.  Dennis Jones hosts Saturday’s ‘Going Across the Mountain’ bluegrass show and the Sunday morning ‘Gospel Truth.’ He is my favorite bluegrass DJ in the history of the world.  ‘Nuff said; I’ll quit preaching now.

www.americanheart.org  The American Heart Association.  There is an old saying in medicine:  “The most common presentation of heart disease is sudden death.”  I tell my patients that is against office policy.  We’re getting there, and it has started to decline, but to this day cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer in this country.  So, the heart people are gonna stay on my list for the forseeable future.

www.cancer.org  The American Cancer Society.  Cancer scares us docs too, and there is so much more to do.  I wish I was brilliant and knew a cure.

www.salvationarmyusa.org  The Salvation Army.  I don’t think I’ve had an unlucky day in my life except for my retinal detachment, and then a surgeon pal fixed me right up.  If I did get down on my luck I think these guys would try to help me.  Someone wrote the measure of a civilized society is how they treat the less fortunate.  To me that is what the Salvation Army is about.

www.icrc.org  The International Red Cross.  Like a lot of Americans I can get egocentric at times, but we shouldn’t forget the Red Cross is global.  If your house burns down, like in the Australian fires last year or you lose it all in a flood, I don’t care where you come from, I feel sorry for you and I’m thankful for the Red Cross.

www.madd.org  Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. Per dollar spent I believe this organization saves more lives than us docs.  If you want to have a drink in the privacy of your home, you’ll get no quarrel from me.  But if you drink and drive and kill some young’un, don’t expect my sympathy. If I never have to tell another Mom some fool has killed her baby it’ll suit me just fine.  

        When my boy got old enough to drive I told him, ‘Son, if you drink and drive and hurt someone don’t count on me to bail you out.  I’ll leave you in the County jail with the rapists.  He knew I could be a stubborn man on the wrong issues, and didn’t test the water.  He never got in any trouble and turned out fine.  He’s a good man and a fine paramedic.  If you drive drunk and wreck on I-4o he’ll save your life but don’t ask for his respect.

Musicians Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) There aren’t many finer causes in bluegrass than this one. Website:  www.bluegrassclassic.com

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