Sweet Charity Indeed
When I recently sat down to dinner with Jane Rice and Nancy Leister (and Scott Roland, who graciously set up the meeting), I expected to learn about Sweet Charities, the local philanthropic group which they started 10 years ago and continue to administer.
I figured I would learn about the events they held and the people they helped and how an idea among friends has turned into more than $1 million to help local causes.
In the end, I did, but I also learned about them and their motivations and their passion for our area. Those things stuck with me the most because those traits have allowed Sweet Charities to have such a significant impact on Hanover for the past decade.
I first moved here in 1992 and started dating my wife that fall. As we got more serious, we talked about our future, where we would live, what kind of community we wanted to settle in. At first, we didn’t think we fit Hanover – we were young and had career aspirations.
But the closer we came to planting roots, the more the charms of the area grew on us. Not only did we have friends (and jobs) in Hanover, but we found our favorite places to eat, built memories around special events and found traditions we could embrace.
We also realized that the stereotype of Hanoverians giving the cold shoulder to anyone without a few generations in a local cemetery did not fit the mold. Maybe it was because we worked in the media and got to know lots of different people, but we discovered most people just wanted to help others make the most out of the Hanover experience.
That’s what I think Sweet Charities represents. Hanover has many, many, many kind and giving people. These two ladies – and two other friends – merely found a way to express that spirit ten years ago when they started the group. And they found that others had the same instinct and, before you knew it, ten years had passed and many lives were enriched.
The point that they do this without an office or administrative staff and with almost no overhead does sound incredibly impressive. But that almost seems like a no-brainer to them. Why would you staff an office and pay for supplies when you can do things yourself to help your neighbors? They seem as if the friendship and spirit of putting on the events buoys them as much as the people they help with the proceeds.
That’s the spirit that captured my wife and I when we decided to stay in Hanover. That’s the feeling I get when stuffing chicken barbecue bags for a fundraiser when I could be at home sleeping. That’s the rush I get when I know that something I did entertained people or helped someone have a better day.
The Hanover community has benefited in so many ways from Sweet Charities. I hope that one lasting gift which it bestows on all of us is the willingness to take some time out of our lives. Maybe we all can’t put together a group which raises as much money as this one, but we can all use our skills to make our town a better place.
Join a service club, volunteer for a fundraiser, support local charities. If you want to make Hanover a better place, every little bit counts. The story of Sweet Charities makes that quite clear because you never know how much good the next little idea can accomplish.