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  • Writer's pictureNeal Hagberg

The Gift of Trust

When you give, if you trust, you give freely.  You don’t

ask in return.  You just give.  This is a rare thing.

I witness it all the time in people like you at TLC.  A kind gesture without ulterior motive; a belief that if you reveal your vulnerability, you will not be taken advantage of; a willingness to let down your guard and learn; the grace received by forgiving; or being forgiven; the assuming of another’s best intentions.

These are all counter to what I learned of the world growing up.  Somewhere along the line, I learned to be suspicious of others’ motives.  To get my fill first at the table in case there is nothing left at the end.  To be jealous of others’ success.  To be first, whatever that means and whatever that takes.  To be wary of being taken advantage of.  

Because being taken advantage of, more than anything, was what I learned distinguishes fools from the wise, the “wise” who refuse to show their cards, the “wise” who distract others from the truth to gain an advantage, the “wise” who keep their emotions and hearts at a distance because if you get to really know someone else, you may not be as inclined to play the illegal Ace hidden up your sleeve. (No, that was not an intended tennis pun.  But I have to admit, it was a pretty good one).

I have spent almost forty years at TLC unlearning some of these habits of “the wise”.  Because that is what they are. Habits.  Human nature is to protect oneself.  I get that.  Sometimes it is necessary, if you have been hurt, to refrain from trust the next time.  But when self-protection or self-preservation produces more heartache and isolation than living a full life, a habit is meant to be looked at, adjusted, sometimes discarded.  And replaced with trust that there is good in the other.  That you can surround yourself with people who will not burn you.  Or if/when they do, they will own up to it and ask forgiveness, and make amends so the relationship is stronger.  Just as you, when you burn others, can do the same.

What does any of this have to do with TLC?

We just finished our $4,000,000 40 Love Campaign, which we started to launch TLC into a strong, inclusive future.  To include those who have not been included through over $2,000,000 in endowed scholarships. To build facilities that are needed to sustain our programs, and to endow the future of facilities so our focus can remain on what is most important to us and what we can never lose sight of – you.  People.  You people who have taught us in the four-plus decades what it means to try to consistently live a life of service to others, on and off the courts.

Our goal was $4,000,000.  With your generosity, (starting with the donation of TLC by Barb and Steve Wilkinson to Gustavus so it could be a non-profit and expand its mission, and ending with the final donation by – you guessed it, Barb Wilkinson), over 600 individual donors contributed.  And you contributed not $4,000,000.  But $4,800,000.

600 donors.  And in all our requests for people to support this mission, only two people said no.  Do you have any idea what a miracle that is in the fundraising world?  I do.  That, more than anything, says everything about who you are.  (I also choose to believe the two who said no had said no because they had other commitments.  We always say, you don’t have to give to TLC, but you must give somewhere).

Gifts in amounts from $10 to $1,000,000.  No one asked for any recognition in return.  Do you know how rare that is?  I do.  But then, I have come to expect that from you.  I have been around you for almost forty years.  And the only thing I ever get surprised about now is when I meet someone who does not give of themselves after they spend time with others here.

I will go to my grave with plenty of the so-called “world-wise” instincts listed above to protect myself, look out only for myself, and be wary of others’ motives.  But you have, like a patient mentor, proven to me that trust is what is worth investing in in the end.  

Thank you to all of you from all of us for your support, financially, emotionally, philosophically.  We did it!  And now we all get to keep doing it, keep looking for ways to, as Steve Wilkinson coined, Let Love Serve.


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