People love to ask why I’m so passionate about giving back to the community, and I always respond by telling them the story about my first day on my first job.
I was collecting what they call bad money—debt that’s five years past due. The premise was that I’d keep 30 percent of whatever I could get. I got my very first assignment, hustled up to Willow Grove, got to the building—which was really a tenement—walked up four flights of stairs and knocked on the door. The door opened and standing before me was a six foot, one inch, 130-pound man. He was emaciated, just standing there in the doorway in an undershirt, holding a little baby. When I looked around the room, the only other thing I saw was a crib with another baby. Needless to say, by the end of my visit, I’d given him $300 out of my own pocket.
Why this story? Because being human and having compassion for each other is really what it’s all about. Because helping this man felt true to who I am, who I’ve always been, and it was as much a benefit to me as it was to him. I’m a very lucky man, and I cherish all of the opportunities I have to give back to the community— and when I say lucky, I don’t mean financially. I mean that I get the pleasure, the true pleasure, of knowing that I help people. My biggest accomplishments in life had nothing to do with money. It was me being there for someone.
Steven Korman with fellow altruists (clockwise from top left) Damian J. Fernandez, M. Moshe Porat, Sue Daugherty and Elizabeth Dale.
This magazine is all about celebrating the people and organizations who are making a difference in the lives of others. In fact, some of the articles are about people with whom I have the joy of working personally—and who are holistically addressing all aspects of the cycle of pain. Here’s an example. I recently participated in the creation of a new program at Jefferson. It involved talking to 50-to-60-year-olds who were poor and believed that the world was passing them by. We trained them, gave them a job, and through this work, they now have a renewed sense of confidence and purpose. Where did we find these men and women? Sister Mary’s Project HOME, which aids the homeless and impoverished. If they’re hungry, MANNA provides them with nourishing food. We have all these Philadelphia-based resources each doing their part to help make a difference, and I’m thrilled that this publication is now here to highlight all of the incredible things that these altruists are accomplishing.
The interwovenness of us as humans trying to help other humans is really what’s at the core of all of this. This past Thanksgiving, I was at Project Home and saw 550 MANNA volunteers, all with the biggest smiles on their faces. And all I could think was, “How lucky are we that these organizations let us see the best of ourselves?” Giving back is really just us giving the best of ourselves.