by Anis Salvesen
Kiva’s 4th birthday was really, really fun! So what was so great about this party? I mean besides the fact that it was for Kiva, of course. If you’ve read previous blog posts, you know that attending Kiva events and meeting Kiva’s president, Premal, is like a tween going to Disneyland and meeting Miley Cyrus. I wonder if Premal’s ever been compared to Miley before.
Anyway, the party was great for two reasons. One was the guest list. To paraphrase a fellow attendee, you know it’s going to be a good party when you gather this great group of like-minded people. You know what else made the party great? It was all of the (not so minute) details –the lights, the decorations, the beautiful spreads of food. Even before walking into the party, I was already impressed. Normally lines are a nightmare, but the folks from the Hub Bay Area are some kind of queue management geniuses. Seriously, Hratch, Jon and the rest of their team could hold training seminars for airlines, grocery stores, emergency rooms, etc.
The Hub, GOOD and Kiva hosts made us feel like welcome guests. As we entered the building, we were greeted by a swirling crowd of happy people. The elevator banks were in the center of the room, creating a sort of tunnel through the crowd, making it easy for traffic to circulate. The other guests and I were able to gracefully move about the room, stopping at various tables for tasty snacks and drinks.
The party was (as all good parties are), multi-level. I thought the first floor was my favorite until I got to the second. There was a great room with a stage where musicians were getting their instruments ready (see a photo on our Facebook page). Then there was this giant terrace with more tables of treats and interesting info about various nonprofits in the area. It was mild for a San Francisco night, and it was so great to be outside, eating my almost-too-pretty-to-eat mini cupcake and sipping on my magnolia tea.
It was on the terrace that I met a young woman from Virgance, with whom I had previously exchanged e-mails. A few weeks prior, I had been in a position to help her with something, and apparently she was incredibly grateful. I was so glad that I had been nice to her. Not that I normally go about kicking little old ladies in the shins or anything. What I mean is just that it’s always nice to find out that you have been helpful to someone in the past.
This seemingly mundane exchange of greetings actually jogged my memory. It was like those suspense films where you see all the pieces, but they don’t come together until the end. I suddenly remembered what Pamela (our CEO) had on more than one occasion mentioned to me – that one should always help people, and you never know how that might be – what’s the word? magnified? Notice that it’s not “help people so you can maybe reap a benefit later.” It’s “help people and good things may very well come of it later.”
In fact, that was evident when I met Premal at a panel earlier this year. I walked up to him, and right away he said, Oh yes, I know Pamela Hawley. I remember her talking with me [over coffee], and she was very helpful. Apparently when Premal was first starting out professionally, Pamela already had experience co-founding VolunteerMatch and then founding UniversalGiving. So she was able to share some of her hard-earned knowledge. The fact that the guy remembered after multiple years, I’m sure after having met hundreds of other people all over the world, bears witness to the fact that even the small things we do can have a bigger impact than we think.
I read the Bible as a kid and remember learning “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I thought it was about being more Christ-like. What I didn’t realize is that it’s far more practical than that. It’s not exclusively religious, and it’s not some flower child, hugs for everyone notion either. How you act now directly affects your future. Maybe the person you once helped is then able to help you or better yet, help your neighbor or loved one. Or maybe the Kiva entrepreneur you sponsor is a woman who is then able to help send her kids to school, and one of those kids then grows up to be your nurse in 15 years. With 16.3 percent of the total registered nurse workforce in the US comprised of foreign-born nurses, it’s not that far-fetched (source: Vanderbilt University Medical Center).
I would imagine that if you allow people to help themselves, you cut down on pollution, civil unrest and other terrible fallouts of extreme poverty that are impossible to contain forever in the Third World. Of course I don’t have any hard data to show that lending to a Kiva entrepreneur would address these issues. But that’s what is so exciting! Kiva is just 4 years old, and already it has raised $94.61 million dollars with a 98% repayment rate. How’s that for a toddler?
And that was what was so great about the party. We were all celebrating what we knew to be true, that so many lives have already been changed, and it’s only the beginning.