Paying It Forward, Part 2
Insights - December 2021
Early one recent Sunday morning, I stopped at 7-Eleven for coffee before driving to Virginia Beach to visit my mom. I said good morning to a guy also getting coffee and he replied, “It is a good morning. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” I agreed with him and we talked a bit more about being grateful for every day. We wished each other well and he headed to the cash register while I went to grab a bottle of water. When I then went to pay, the cashier told me that the man I had been talking to in the coffee area had bought my cup of coffee for me.
“As we look to a new year with the hope and belief that brighter days lie ahead, let us remember my coffee buddy’s cheerful attitude on that early Sunday morning as we count our blessings and find ways to keep paying it forward.”
This man’s actions reminded me so much of what my late Dad would have done, both in terms of what he said and what he did to pay forward his blessings with a kind gesture (I wrote a column entitled Paying it Forward about my dad in early 2020; using this title again seems fitting). To experience this moment of grace as I was heading to see my mom – who is well cared for at her assisted living facility yet struggling with memory loss – meant more to me than this kind man could possibly have imagined.
We have all lived through an extraordinarily challenging time these past two years – a time when our world has changed dramatically and when so many people have experienced the loss of loved ones. My coffee buddy also said to me that we were both blessed, simply because we woke up that morning, when not everyone did. He was completely right, which to me is what explains the clear connection between this time of challenges and losses and our heightened awareness of grace, blessings, and all the reasons we have to be grateful.
There are many examples of how bankers have paid it forward over the past two years. These include bankers working around the clock to process Paycheck Protection Program loans last year, to help so many small businesses stay open and therefore keep their employees on board; banks combining efforts to load trucks full of food for area food banks, and bankers adapting their financial education volunteer efforts to virtual platforms to keep this vital life skills training front and center for young people. These are just a few examples among many, and every banker I talk with tells me essentially the same thing: it’s a privilege to serve and support our customers and communities however we can.
We feel the same way at the VBA. We get to provide resources to our member banks that help them as they serve their communities. We get to provide training to bank employees to help them increase the positive impact they make. As one example, this month we kicked off our second cohort of the VBA Women’s Mentorship Program, in which fourteen mentors in banking leadership roles are mentoring fifteen women at their banks, with the exact and tangible goal of paying forward what they have learned and the blessings they have experienced in their careers.
As we look to a new year with the hope and belief that brighter days lie ahead, let us remember my coffee buddy’s cheerful attitude on that early Sunday morning as we count our blessings and find ways to keep paying it forward. I wish you very happy holidays and would love to hear from you any time.