As Founder, I am often asked when I became interested in philanthropy. The answer is, quite simply, that I was contributing to others long before I can remember. Growing up, my family was very poor. My five family members, spanning three generations, lived in a three room bungalow where 10 families shared a single bathroom. Yet despite these tough conditions, my family was very focused on the needs of others.
Through my entire childhood, there was always a blue tine donation box on the counter. Every day, we had to put a single penny in the box for those less fortunate than we were. There was no escaping the box; every night before bed my family and I would gather ceremoniously around the little blue box and drop our pennies in. This simple tradition is what first taught me the importance of giving back. Much later in life I learned that this money went to help victims of the holocaust in Europe.
We are all, in some ways, products of our upbringing. Today, even though my mom, dad, grandmother and sister are all deceased, the lessons that they taught me and their spirit of philanthropy lives on. I still feel that inevitable pull every evening to make sure there is something going into that “box”.