Lee, my taxi driver, has lived in the Aspen area for some 40 years. He came to Colorado as an architect, but when the economy collapsed in 2008, he lost his job and house and all his savings.
He drove me to the airport this morning as I was heading home from an inspiring and impressive weekend seminar with our partners at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
We’re indebted to the Grinspoon Foundation for our partnership on Create a Jewish Legacy and PJ Library. PJ Library, in our community, has given a quarter of a million free Jewish books to kids and families in Greater MetroWest. Some 3,250 families receive this amazing gift because of our partnership. Our partnership goes even farther as our Jewish Community Foundation’s Create a Jewish Legacy program helped 15 of our synagogues and agencies raised more than $11.8 million in endowments and legacy gifts to secure their futures. The Grinspoon Foundation was right there with us helping train and motivate the partners with a $10,000 incentive gift for reaching their legacy goals. People like Harold Grinspoon and the impressive staff and board members of the Foundation, are helping to secure the Jewish future.
And as I got into my taxi this morning, this gratitude was in my mind. But my taxi driver, Lee, was a fascinating storyteller, and he regaled me with his life story and belief in a better future.
“Why don’t you leave?” I asked him. “It’s been really hard for you.”
“Because I’ve seen this place grow,” he replied. “I don’t lock my door; I love my neighbors and community and what I have.”
And then he told me about the tree.
“There’s a special spot in the Fryingpan River Trail that I first noticed 40 years ago. I sat down and had lunch there. When I was there I noticed a small sapling growing out of a huge boulder by the river. Over the years I keep coming back and I’ve seen that tiny sapling grow into a mighty tree. That mighty tree has split the boulder in two, and now it too has a small branch coming off it. That’s why I live here. I love that tree. It reminds me that small things can move huge ones. I’m just one small guy. But I know what I see.”
Small things can move huge ones. Visionaries like the Grinspoons can create those futures, and so can we. I saw it too.