David Smith (not his real name for anonymity) was a disciplined saver during his working years and put together a nest egg that would be the envy of most retirees. If he wanted, he could easily retire in a luxury golf-course retirement community in Florida, near the ocean waters he loves. In fact, he strongly considered it. But instead, he decided to stay here in Wichita among friends and community he’s known for much of his working life, in the home he paid off years ago.
David feels no need for bigger and better toys, and is content living a simple, quiet life for the most part. That is, apart from his impressive splurges on exotic dive trips to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Malaysia, as well as “local” ventures out to the Bahamas and Caribbean. He ventures out several times each year, coming back with amazing pictures and stories, reminding Debra and I to “get out there” and rekindle our love of the ocean, travel and culture.
But, here’s the really cool part of David’s story. Recently, he started having even more fun with his money: helping others.
On his dive trips David has seen tremendous poverty and need around the world. A few years ago he began kicking around the idea of making some significant gifts to projects that could help people in these areas. But he didn’t want to give just for the sake of giving. He wanted to give to something that would make a lasting difference – a significant impact over time that he could see – in a village, a family, or an individual’s life.
So, we looked at several specific programs he could partner with including healthcare, water wells, and orphans. We took notes, had meetings, set criteria, listed ideas and crossed off ideas. In the end, David landed on a project that resonated with him more than all the others. He found an opportunity to make a lasting and significant impact in a small village in Uganda by buying land and building a grain mill to help support a new school. This grain mill will create jobs for local villagers, and the profit will help support teachers and staff at the new school.
The impact this gift will have – I frankly can’t find the words. There will be measurable results as David wished, but also immeasurable. Its impact will be seen in this one village, yet it will also ripple far beyond. And it will make a difference over the next few years, but also far into the future, changing the lives of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren for years to come.
David’s already thinking about what he might do next. Perhaps help build low-rent dormitories for the teachers? Or a project in another country? Perhaps the recently devastated Bahamas where he has scuba dived for many years?
“When I think about why I’m here on this earth, I think I’ve got a responsibility to help others,” David told me not long ago. I’ve been honored to work with David to help facilitate his giving and I look forward to seeing what he might do next. Who knows, maybe one day he’ll decide to use some of his funds to build that house near the ocean. But even if he does, he plans to give his estate to helping others when he is gone. How cool is that? And how cool that we’ve had an opportunity to be a part of it.
On a final note, what makes this project even more poignant for Debra and me is that it is facilitated in Uganda by the the Kampala Church of Christ, which Debra and I helped start some 25 years ago. Isn’t it amazing what God can do? The project is coordinated stateside by Larry Wu (anecdotally the creator of the “McGriddle”) and the Christan Relief Fund (CRF). Not long ago Larry said to me, simply, “I thank God for David Smith.” So do I, for making a lasting difference, one village at a time.
Gregory A Carr MBA, AAMS®, CKA®
Senior Financial Advisor
Accredited Asset Management Specialist