For three years I went and worked as a charity fundraiser in a call centre. Why I did, that is another story! What I heard and what I learned on the phone was extraordinary. Fundraising is no walk in the park! It’s all about providing a supportive setting albeit temporary where people awaken to an idea, they can make a difference and act on that belief right away in the form of a donation.
The work itself is relentless, the targets staggering and the money poor. Paying rent on this salary was difficult, so it would be easy to miss a bigger picture that was quietly taking shape. Each day as I listened to more and more people something was beginning to form & take shape in my soul. Before I began each shift I would quietly sit and say to myself “Today I will give each person I speak to, the best possible experience of a fundraiser” That one simple affirmation meant that over a 3 year period thousands of people would invite me in to their lives over the phone. And so I began to listen to whole demographics within the population. Often ‘baby boomers’ and the very elderly. The guy next door to lords & ladies.
People talked to me about their families, births deaths, marriages, their hopes and dreams, sadness & joy, frustrations, politics, religion, relationships & work, successes and failures, their pets, holidays, secrets, confessions, fears and their longings and I listened to their stories. I spoke to these incredible people who had done everything from building sheds to business empires, growing vegetables for their communities, changing gender, fled war zones, and born in prisoner of war camps.
There were those who had the courage to start over in their 60’s and 70’s, saved lives, written books, been to prison and turned their lives around. Here was all the experience, knowledge and wisdom for any successful society right under our noses.
Even with differing life experiences what all of these people had in common was a ‘hunger for a conversation’ with someone who would listen. Here were thousands of people who so often had become invisible in our communities. I suspect there might be quite a few people I spoke to in your street. Let’s all begin a new conversation.