Run Through Every Door Opened to You
by Annika Paradise, Official JLF@Boulder Blogger
From surface appearances, Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, and California girl, Carrie Morgridge, couldn’t be more different. Yet Her Majesty in a brilliant orange traditional Bhutanese dress, held hands with the eloquent powerhouse wearing a tailored white jacket, while sharing knowing smiles of similarity at the Jaipur Literature Festival at Boulder. Both were not college-educated, married into positions of power and influence, used motherhood as a catalyst for social change, penned multiple books and most importantly, have used those positions of power to change their worlds through philanthropy.
Carrie Morgridge, the Vice President of the Morgridge Family Foundation, moved out after high school, away from step families, and up to San Franciso. She worked in real estate by day and a bar by night. “I knew how to work.” She was single in Silicon Valley at the dawn of the tech boom, when the cutest guy she’d ever seen and her future husband pulled up in a red Ferrari like the prince from a fairy tale. The importance of philanthropy was engrained in her from her church upbringing and her father-in-law (who took Cisco public) and feels that, “Now we have an abundance and it’s time to give back.”
Her Majesty married into the royal family of Bhutan. “In Bhutan, service is paramount; it is duty.” Her majesty was educated at a boarding school in India where the values of philanthropy were further instilled. After her marriage, she took incognito journeys into remote areas and saw the intense need, motivating the creation of the Tarayana Foundation.
As mothers, the goals of both of these women have grown up with their kids. They shared an early focus on literacy, followed by empowering student groups and finally workplace development or income-generating projects. The thread of motherhood has inspired their philanthropy.
Get rid of the zeroes behind the amount of the money.
Fifty dollars can do so much. Giving is about acknowledging the needs in your own community. The philanthropists both work with student groups to empower a culture of caring. The Morgridge Family Foundation encourages student groups to decide how to give away $4,000 to their own school. In the same way, in Bhutan, the Tarayana Foundation fosters school compassion clubs. Even in the poor rural areas, the children visit the elderly or those “childless homes” to collect firewood, and share stories, time and attention. Other groups adopt streams, to keep them clean and protected from harmful runoff.
The sharing economy.
Our world is changing in great positive ways by not just having things, but sharing them and thereby creating empathy. With organizations like Airbnb and Uber, sharing is a win-win: meeting people and hearing real stories is changing our world culture. Bhutan is ahead of us in this respect – there, a guest is like God. Fifteen years ago, Her Majesty and daughter traveled incognito to remote areas, carrying food on her back and the first night took shelter under a tree. The next night they were invited in, given the best beds and food and heard first hand the village’s needs, the villagers not knowing her true identity. The following night they bravely knocked on a door in the next village and the previous night’s deeds were repeated.
Each gesture is something to be celebrated. This is philanthropy.