Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

October 2012

Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter October 2012

From Community Service: The Nature of a Partnership

What does it mean to be a partner? We often think of this term used in business which assumes both a mutuality of dependence and equality of power. In relationships also, such as a marriage, the sense that both parties give to, and receive from, the partnership is key to satisfaction and success. If, over time, one side of the equation either holds different expectations, or siphons off too much energy, the other side suffers and sometimes breaks the bond. Both partners have to live in the creative tension of give and take.

Sometimes, we make the mistake in our service endeavors to believe that we, as those who are attempting to "give to others" should be the active agent in the relationships we create. "Those people" need our help and, therefore, we should respond. All well and good, as far as that takes us. It is not, however, a true partnership if that is the goal and end result of our action—that one side holds all the "wealth" of resources, and the other side passively accepts the gift.

Vidya Kagan, member of the Nobles Development Office, and her 8-year-old daughter, Reena, have fun cleaning and packaging infant toys at C2C's Family Volunteer Day on Sept. 22.

We are blind indeed if we cannot decipher the gifts in return. Over the last decades Nobles has created service partnerships of many kinds both locally and internationally. We have worked to understand the complexity of the situations our friends find themselves in, and the relentless forces that are causing the issue. This teaches us politics, economics, cultural awareness and empathy. In our weekly visits to Boston agencies and schools we come to understand the commonality of being human, as well as the uniqueness of individual experience that shapes the lives of those we learn to know. As we create projects to fit the needs of those we serve, we must also learn to work within the parameters of our own school's goals, to time manage, to shape our message to our audience, and to follow through on our promises. As new challenges emerge from the situation, and as we grow in skills and attitudes about the world, improving techniques and deeper understandings are evoked. Everything begins to look more nuanced—it is not usually a matter of "either this or that." We get wiser about why the need occurred in the first place, and how difficult the road is to repair and renew each other. All this comes back to our campus—the internal campus we carry with us everywhere.

Many long-term partnerships are well known to Nobles families: Cradles to Crayons, Community Servings, Campuses Against Cancer, and schools like Roxbury Prep and the Epiphany School. More are being created each year by your children. The lesson for all of us who connect and stay connected is to recognize all we get back when we reach out. We are forever changed...for good.

Sandi MacQuinn and Linda Hurley

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Dedham, Massachusetts
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