Friday, 2 September 2011

Keeping a promise

is important. My father hates to break a promise to do something. It worries him. I am much the same.
I accept there are times when it becomes impossible, when a situation changes in such a way that it is no longer possible to do something. I can remember promising my youngest nephew that the next time he came we would go to the tiny playground around the corner so he could try the new climbing frame. The next time came and it was pouring with rain. We did not go. He was sensible enough, even at age three, to accept it was not a good idea. We did something else together instead.
But there are other sort of ongoing promises that do need to be kept. Promises that not everyone may not even know about. They may be the most important promises of all.
Yesterday someone I know was selling "badges" in the shopping centre. There is nothing new in that. Charities are so desperate for financial support that there is someone there trying to collect for charity almost every day.
I usually ignore them. It is not that I do not care. I do care and I often feel strongly about the cause for which they are collecting. I am aware however that they are charged a hefty fee by the owner of the shopping centre. Frequently I see the same few people collecting and I know they are paid to collect. I am aware that as little as little as 18c in the dollar may reach the charity and that even less may reach the people it is intended to help.
Yesterday however the collection was for an organisation called "Legacy". Australians will know Legacy. It assists the families of men and women who have been severely injured or died on active duty in the Australian armed forces. Post World War II Legacy had an enormous role to play in helping families cope and care for each other. Since then Australian soldiers have seen active service in other places too. The need to help has never gone away.
Legacy was assisting a child I once taught. When he moved into my class a member of Legacy alerted me and asked me to let him know if there was ever an occasion on which their assistance was needed.
Mark and his mother were fiercely independent. Mark would not accept being on the "free books" scheme. He would "earn" those doing extra jobs around the school.
Toward the end of the year however there was an educational excursion for the entire upper school. It came at a cost. Mark thought he might not be able to go. I contacted the Legacy representative. Knowing how Mark felt about "charity" I asked if he could he find Mark enough work to let him earn the right to go? Not a problem. Mark earned the right to go.
"He said he promised my Dad he would help look after us," Mark told me.
I went to university with another boy who had lost his father in Vietnam. Legacy had seen him through school and was keeping a watchful eye on him through university. Like Mark he would earn the extras he needed by working but Legacy had helped him find work.
"My Mum was left with three of us and Legacy promised they would help. They have helped too. There was always someone I could go to and that meant as much as any money."
Legacy helped to organise a funeral I attended last year. They had assisted the soldier's widow right through her illness because there was no family. She told me, "They promised you know and they have kept that promise." She left what she had to Legacy.
And yesterday I gave something to Legacy because Legacy has kept a promise. It is one occasion on which the owner of the shopping centre will not demand a fee for a collecting point. He will not dare. Legacy still has a job to do - and a promise to keep.


Anonymous said...

G'day. We need Legacy-like organizations to give practical help and encouragement to lots of other groups in the community. Can Legacy expand to take over asylum seekers and refugees in Oz and disaffected "rioters" in the UK? LMcC

catdownunder said...

It is not in Legacy's remit - although I imagine there are plenty of members involved elsewhere. The asylum-seeker problem really needs inter-government intervention but nobody wants to even start down that road. Current policies are just adding to the problems!