Somehow we have a fascination and sometimes a disgust toward the wealthiest people in our society. To be sure, they are the ones that get a lot of attention in the tabloids and television talk shows. And the paparazzi love them that makes us envious. But at the same time, we tend to look down on them. We assume that they are spoiled, perhaps got their wealth through unscrupulous means and that they cannot understand the day in day out struggles that the “common folks” go through every day.
But there is another side to the lifestyle of the most fortunate in society and that is their philanthropic and community service work that they do. There is no question that the wealthy have amazing abilities to generate revenue and build powerful and successful businesses. But it seems that once people reach a certain level of wealth, the urge takes over to give to the community and provide the means for some truly great community service work to be done.
There is a long precedent in the country for those who achieve the highest level of success to turn that success around and put it right back into the community. One of the great philanthropists of the American business community was David Packard, one of the founders of Hewlett Packard. Throughout his career, he never allowed the trappings of wealth to affect his lifestyle or his values. So when he had achieved great success, he turned right around and started the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. This ongoing community service organization uses the tremendous endowment of funds that David Packard passed to it in his will to fund dozens of worthwhile community service projects including preschools, community centers, health care for children and children’s hospitals.
A more up to date example of a very rich and successful business man turning that wealth to community service is Bill Gates, the entrepreneur who started Microsoft. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gives literally millions to dozens of worthy projects that are set up to help ease the plight of those victimized by global poverty and illness as well finding ways to encourage global development to help put an end to poverty once and for all.
Looking at this charitable work on the outside, you might think that the rich of our society do this kind of thing for a tax write off or because they feel guilty for all they take out of society. And sure, there are no doubt some of that social class who function out of those motivations. But a higher motivation often is what drives the wealthy to want to do their part.
In many cases, such as Bill Gates, the wealth they have come to know was a byproduct of their brilliant work with their field of endeavor. They never set out to be rich but the marketplace rewarded them for innovation, invention or superior business abilities. These individuals are like you and I in that they set out in life to be as successful as they can be. And just like you and I, many of the wealthy know that being a success in life means more than just your bank account or how new your car is.
So by using the blessings their success has given them to help others, the wealthy get a different kind of fulfilment from life than just luxury and fine living. They learn what many of us already know that to achieve true fulfilment in life, you have to seek it from helping others. By coming down out of their mansions and finding ways to help others in society, the rich discover that the one who gets the most out of community service is the giver. We are fortunate to such philanthropists who are using their wealth to help others. But they have learned that our thanks is not the reward. They have learned that the way to truly get richer is to enjoy a richer life and that there is no richer experience in life than the joy of helping others through community service.