Jeremy Snyder in Baton Rouge with Samaritan’s Purse, April 2018. In the piece below he looks back on that experience, and forward.
I, like many people, am what you might call passively philanthropic. I have donated money and toys, run races, and even jumped in a freezing lake in the name of charity. However, I have always maintained a comfortable distance from those I was helping.
The Samaritan’s Purse trip was different. It offered the opportunity to be active in the face of need, to meet and connect with those who required assistance. In this case, that happened to be the victims of the August 2016 flood that ravaged Louisiana, and damaged over 140,000 homes. After almost two years, there are still people living in FEMA trailers. These people were generous enough to open their lives and their grief to us, and allow us to provide some small measure of comfort.
The fine staff of Samaritan’s Purse was generous in their thanks and praise for the sacrifices we made to be there, but I do not feel as if I gave up anything. I was able to travel to a place I had never been, learn things, and do some good in the process. If anyone is to be praised for sacrifice, it would be those I left behind: my wife, who had to parent our five children alone; my co-workers, who had to pick up my slack; even Innovairre, who paid to send seven of us, from six locations, on the trip. Jesse Aynes-IA, Cassandra Clark-NJ, Linda Lockett-VA, Linda Glazer-MD, Lisa Balsan-VA, Jeremy Snyder-OH, and Mary-Anne Brister-NH
Although I consider my time with Samaritan’s Purse well spent, I left feeling like I hadn’t done enough, but should I have? Had I left with a feeling of completion, would I be likely to volunteer again? I’m also left with the question, why did it take so long? Why did it take a disaster four states away to spur me to action? There are people in my own community hurting, and a myriad of ways to be of service, so why have I been passive about it? There’s nothing inherently wrong with passive philanthropy—in fact, without it most charities wouldn’t exist—but I don’t think it’s enough for me anymore. There will always be people in need, whose lives have been shattered, and who could use a kind word and a hand to help them to their feet. There will always be work to do, and what I did yesterday, matters less than what I will do tomorrow.