The Gift of Mystery
Submitted by: Nancy Woodruff Ment, President and CEO, ANDRUS
For some years now – as many as ten perhaps? – with some irregular but still reliable frequency, ANDRUS has received checks from the same mysterious person to support our work with children. The envelopes have a return name and address, the checks are signed by the donor and have his address in the corner, and the amounts are always generous. There is never a note enclosed and never a clue about the donor’s intentions. Over many years, we have reached out to the him by mail and telephone. He has never responded to our letters and the calls recorded on an answering machine are never returned. We have some precious few web-accessible facts about him: where he went to school and when he graduated with what degrees, and his profession. We assume he cares deeply about children because of his generosity but we have no idea why he has chosen ANDRUS for his philanthropy. Over the years we have engaged in fantasy about his motivation – perhaps he has some connection to ANDRUS through a relative or he personally knows something of the troubles our children face. Were we just high in the alphabetical listings when he first made his choice? We have even speculated that he feels compelled to share his success with others who will never achieve what he has. Always our musings end with the recognition that we just don’t know.
Today, I signed yet another letter to this mysterious man to thank him for yet another unsolicited gift. It occurred to me that I could curb his elusiveness by searching more assertively on the web. A keystroke or two brought me to the multiple listings for him, including the linked in website. A quick stroke and I was on his page – no photo (no surprise) but off to the right was a list of names stunningly well known to me who are part of his network, and mine. For a moment I couldn’t breathe simply from knowing how easily I could could get the answers we want. I could find out just who he is and what ANDRUS is in his world. But I won’t. I quickly signed out with the intention to honor his privacy. He has given important gifts to the children we serve with his contributions. He has given those of us who care for them a different but equally valuable gift — being grateful that there are people in the world who truly don’t want recognition but simply care about doing good.