Describing people as “poor” strikes some as insensitive. People are more than dollars and cents. At a lecture last week by Robert Lupton of “Toxic Charity” fame, Mr. Lupton was asked, “Don’t you have a better word than ‘poor’ to describe the people you serve?”

He looked down for a moment at his shoes, looked back up and said, “Neighbors?”

That lecture was part of Philanthropy Week in the Lowcountry. As Jennifer Berry Hawes of The Post and Courier reported, Paul and Louise Kohlheim were given the Philanthropist of the Year Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Wally and Bev Seinsheimer earned the Jerry Zucker Lifetime Achievement Award at the Giving Back Awards.

Both of these couples have been really good neighbors.

Like you, I think I am just as ready to help my neighbors as anybody else. Pulling in a forgotten empty trash can from the curb, tolerating a loud party, forgiving an odd paint choice, these are neighborly acts.

I trust my neighbors would do the same for me. With that trust, you start looking for opportunities to help your neighbors even before being asked.

Wally and Bev Seinsheimer gave to create the MUSC Cardiovascular Health Center. You don’t need a whole health center for yourself; they were thinking of doing something for the neighborhood. The Seinsheimers were at Trident United Way when the first Day of Caring was just a dream. That day of regional neighborliness is in part their making. Likewise, Louise Kohlheim chairs the Board of Reading Partners of South Carolina and Paul chairs the Tricounty Cradle To Career Collaborative. These are neighborly efforts that affect many, many people. The neighborhood of the Seinsheimers and Kohlheims is larger than most. They trust that neighborliness will be paid forward, passed on, or given back. They may not know precisely how, but they trust that neighbors will be neighborly.

The message behind these awards at this year’s Philanthropy Week is that our neighborhood ends where our trust in neighborliness ends. The Seinsheimers and Kohlheims just have more neighbors than the rest of us.

That is not a status thing, or a money thing. It’s a matter of trust in neighborliness. The neighborhoods of the Seinsheimers and Kohlheims overlap with our own.

Best of all, Bev, Wally, Paul, and Louise are welcoming us as neighbors.

All it takes to join them is trust in the power of neighborliness.



Coastal Community Foundation of SC

Rutledge Avenue