Why They Give

Original Airdates: January 4, 5, 7 (2011)

This is Living Stories, featuring voices from the collections of the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. I'm Louis Mazé.

Merriam-Webster defines philanthropy as "goodwill to fellowmen; especially : active effort to promote human welfare." The word is by no means new. The ancient Greeks called it philanthropia and thought the idea was the key to civilization. Waco is fortunate to claim several philanthropists as its own.

Jim Hawkins, founder of J-Hawk Funding Corporation, reflects on why he gives:

"The only difference in our community and any other community is the people in it. And those people can make the difference. And if you share with the community to build a better community, it's going to pay off. You're going to—you're going to get gratification many times over. That's what makes it so, for me—to—when I go through town now and see the projects that they said that we couldn't do, that we've done. You know, I never will forget in 1965 when I was president of the chamber of commerce—junior chamber of commerce, there were three projects that we identified that needed to be done. As a young man then, it seemed like it was more than you can ever expect: low-water dam, the junior college, and the convention center. We didn't have a convention center. And we set out, got all three of those. And, I mean, looking back on it now, when you go by all this, you're able to really enjoy the history and knowing what can be done if you really put your mind to it. The people in the community make the difference. And you make it what you want it to be."

Bernard Rapoport discusses why he founded the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation after selling American Income Life Insurance Company:

"I look up in the sky, and, for me, I say, ‘Well, there's something greater than I am. And that's God. And the rest of it is you have to behave yourself and accept responsibility.' Now, so many of these religious people, to me, are not religious because they don't accept responsibility. For example, when we did—when we sold the company, we got a lot of money, and we put half of it in the foundation. Some of my friends said, Well, you're crazy. Why did you do that? I said, ‘Because I owed it.' Said, Who'd you owe it to? I said, ‘To society.' I said, ‘Anybody that thinks they're a self-made man is an idiot. I mean, if I had to make a list of all the people that helped me get to where I am,' I said, ‘there's not enough paper in the world. And I was good at managing, and I was good at motivating, and so we were able to build a company. But how many people do you think helped me do that?' The only guy that I can't stand is a self-made man because I know I'm talking to an idiot."

The lives of these generous men speak well to the adage that money only brings happiness when you use it to help others.

Living Stories is funded in part by a Cooper Foundation grant to the Institute for Oral History. Living Stories is heard every Tuesday on 103 point 3 FM, Waco's NPR. For more information about this program or the Institute for Oral History, visit us online at baylor.edu/livingstories.


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