Spare Key at 20: Grace, Generosity and Gratitude.

20th Anniversary Logo_Bell_Big

Today, Spare Key celebrates its 20th Anniversary of helping families “Bounce and not Break.”

Little could have the Founders of Spare Key know that September 15, 1997 would begin a 20 year journey that would impact the lives of untold thousands of Moms and Dads and their children.

As I write this piece I am only an hour or so back from my time in Aberdeen, South Dakota with the REALTORS Convention of the Dakotas – the combined annual meeting of the North Dakota and South Dakota Association of REALTORS.

Since 2014 Spare Key has been honored to be invited to attend this conference.  In doing so we are given the opportunity to meet with, communicate with and celebrate with hundreds of REALTORS from across the states of North Dakota and South Dakota.

Men and women who care deeply and passionately about their community.

Who, in their own REALTOR Pledge, swear to dedicate their professional life to improving not just their industry, but the lives of those who live in the communities in which they live.

I thought it fitting that as I sit at my desk and write this that I had this opportunity to spend a couple of days with REALTORS in South Dakota.

Because they reminded me – for what has to be so many times I can no longer keep track – of the power of grace and generosity of strangers who have helped Spare Key to this place in our 20th year of operations.

We have served over 3,200 families with more than $3.2 million in housing grants.

But, it isn’t numbers that we talk about at Spare Key.

It’s about families.  Moms and Dads.  Children.

In 20 years we have seen amazing stories of resilience and courage and recovery.

We’ve also shared tears with families whose child simply could not overcome the illness or injury that brought them to the time where they earned their Angel Wings and found their way to God.

I was honored to Spare Key’s new Executive Director when we celebrated our 15th Anniversary.

I am humbled to be it as we celebrate our 20th Anniversary.

Through those five years we have seen growth at Spare Key.  We have served more families.  We have raised more money.  We are in more states.

We have helped more families “Bounce and not Break.”

Yet, our goal is not to grow for the sake of growth or to flaunt numbers and figures and statistics.

I would much rather be able to say that we never have to help a family because there are no sick and injured children in the world.

I can’t so I don’t think about those things I cannot change.

Instead I, along with our dedicated staff at Spare Key, think about the things we can change.

So, too, does our Board of Directors and the thousands of donors and volunteers who every single year come together to make the difference we need to have to give families the “Gift of Time.”

Words cannot ever do justice to 20 years of serving families who in their darkest hours simply were looking for the grace of the light.

The light that could come from anywhere.

For 20 years it came from someone who carried it forward by donating to Spare Key.

In the end that is all any of us should want in the most desperate hours.

Someone who cares about us.  Thinks about us.  Stands with us.

As I sat in South Dakota with hundreds of my neighbors from North Dakota and South Dakota, and saw the quiet passion they have for service, I had a few moments to reflect on the past five years.

Like any person who works for a living I have had my fair share of good days and bad days.

I won’t pretend to suggest that being the Executive Director of a non-profit means that my job is more fulfilling or meaningful than somebody else’s job.

All I can do is speak for myself.

I used to work in a business where I rubbed elbows with Ambassadors from foreign lands–was in meetings with U.S. Presidents, Vice Presidents and some of the most powerful members of Congress–CEOs of multi-national corporations–the Presidents, Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of other countries–and celebrities and powerful people with more influence and money than I care to remember.

Minutes after I arrived in Aberdeen on Wednesday I was on a hotel floor ironing the wrinkles out of a tablecloth to use at The REALTORS Convention of the Dakotas for Spare Key.

I’ve been privileged to do many things in many places and I can honestly say nothing has made me feel better about who I am and what I do than this job.

On this day that Spare Key celebrates its 20th Anniversary I want to say “Thank You” to those of you who have allowed me that privilege by supporting this mission in big ways and small.

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