Present Company Included

Give: to transfer the possession of freely, to hand over as a present. What's your definition?

Illustration by Samuel Bell

A non-profit manager, restaurateur and community board member talk about the idea of giving

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“I’ve got young kids – a five year old, a four year old, a two year old and a one year old – and I watch how they share. That’s their frame of reference for giving. They’re already doing it.”
Brian Boulanger (left), with Julianna Mimande and Lynn Berry

In every issue of unlimited, we highlight three people featured in the magazine who embody the issue’s theme. The idea of “giving” ties together much of the Nov/Dec 2007 content. We’ve asked three individuals to reflect on the word and its relevance to their working lives and used their responses to commission an abstract representation of their take on the word. In the summer of 2008, we’ll invite everybody who’s been “Unlisted” throughout the year to join us at an unlimited symposium in the Rockies.

Lynn Berry, project and community relations manager for a non-profit
You know the saying, “It’s better to give than to receive”? That makes it sound like it’s a choice between the two, but I think that when you give, you do in fact receive. I’m not sure why we keep using that saying. When we share our time, our talents or our wealth, we always get something in return. For instance, when you volunteer, you can gain an increase in skills, or experience, or a sense of belonging. By giving or sharing, you make a difference, and personally, the ultimate goal in life is to make a difference, to create positive change.

I love working with immigrants. There is a ripple effect. They share the information they learn with family and friends. That helps people make a better life in Canada – by better understanding our culture, finding a job, or even makingÊa personal connection. For me, that makes a difference, knowing that because I’ve done something, somebody else feels better.

Julianna Mimande, restaurateur
There’s a freedom in giving. There’s no expectation around it. To me, it’s the offering of one’s self, or of something one has, to someone else, with no expectation to do so. For me, selfishly, I give through this restaurant because I want to see it returned to me in this little community. I wish I could say that I give selflessly, without any expectations or motivation, and I aspire to that. But for the time being it’s just so nice to have a locale that I’ve created and love to be in. I could say it’s altruistic, that feeding people healthy foods makes me feel really good, and it does, but at the same time, there’s more to it. People who come into the restaurant – they’re not just from the neighbourhood, but many are. So in a sense it’s a gift to them, because they can walk here, it’s part of their daily existence. But also, it’s a gift to anyone who has the same sort of values about food and aesthetics. It’s sort of a community of like-minded people.

Brian Boulanger, financial sector vice-president and charity board member
I believe everybody is capable of giving. It doesn’t matter where you are in life, or what you want to accomplish, or how busy you are – you have to start thinking beyond your personal frame of reference. I’ve got young kids – a five year old, a four year old, a two year old and a one year old; it’s a lot of fun – and I watch how they interact with each other, how they share. That’s their frame of reference for giving; they’re already doing it. As you grow older, you broaden your scope and start to think outside your family, outside your own circle of friends. I believe that this comes with age and experience: a broader context. We’re able to contemplate sharing with a bigger circle of people.

I had a mentor who brought me into some of the “giving” work he was doing. It can be a pretty difficult thing to find on your own. You might get there on your own, but it helps to have a catalyst, like a family influence or friend, to show that you can do it. Once you do it, and you like it, and it’s rewarding, it jumps up on your priority list. U

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