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We all make a difference by taking one step at a time

One of my favorite quotes to enlighten my children is: "Patience is a virtue." I don't know who said it, but it rings true for me in so many ways. In some cases, we anxiously await happy moments.

My recent inspiration is Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss as he waits for the naming of his successor. He continues to work with great deliberation and care for the Catholics in the Archdiocese of Omaha. He anticipates a well-deserved retirement from a rigorous schedule of ministering to more than 220,000 Catholics in the archdiocese. He acknowledges that the phone call from the Vatican will happen in its own time. He patiently waits while continuing to carry out his duties with energy and enthusiasm.

On a less positive note are the challenges that we face with the current economic conditions. We all want to see our retirement funds get back to where they were. We all lament that this has gone on too long and our patience has worn thin. The ripple effects have caused businesses to close, job layoffs and cutbacks in funds and services to many nonprofits. It's difficult to be patient when things aren't going the way we'd like.

But "patience is a virtue" as I remind myself on a daily basis. Getting through these times takes a lot of focus and staying the course just one step at a time. Funders and fund raisers need to look at creative ways to continue the causes and missions that they care so deeply about and they need to give people the opportunity to be a part of that mission.

I recently attended a coffee social that invited the attendees to bring items for women's shelters. If you belong to a book club, Bunco group or card club, persuading members to bring items to support a shelter or food pantry would be a great way to bridge the gaps during these tough times. It does not involve an extra meeting or extra time away from home. But it does help the social service agencies that are struggling and seeing an increased demand for their services.

I think our Catholic schools do a great job of teaching the students about this kind of stewardship at a very young age. Some schools host faculty versus student games and ask the children to bring a canned good for admission. Students from some of our Catholic high schools just donated more than $4,000 to Project Rachel, an organization that supports women who have had an abortion. Much of that money was collected $1 at a time from each student for a dress down day. High school kids probably have that much money on the floor in their car or bedroom!

The real lesson is to think about sharing your gifts and talents just one step at a time. Much can and will be accomplished!

Mary Jewell is executive director of the archdiocese's Stewardship and Development Office.

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