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American Generosity

We Are A Giving People

Karen and Jay share thoughts on the generosity of Americans and how our ‘giving’ is a core part of our national character.

Americans are the most generous people in the world. Study after study has shown that we as Americans more giving of our money and our time than the people of any other country. And interestingly, it doesn’t even matter whether it’s Americans who are wealthy or those with fewer resources. On a percentage basis, Americans are generous ‘givers’ across the board. And, this doesn’t just apply to individual Americans, it’s also true of us as a nation. In times of need, America is always the first to lend a generous hand to people all across the globe. Our generosity is one of our most enduring and admirable characteristics.

Over the last few weeks, the world’s collective attention has been centered on the crisis in Ukraine. We’ve seen first-hand what the tragedy of war looks like, but we’ve also seen immense moments of charity that help restore our hope that good will always triumph over evil. Here in the U.S., individuals and organizations from all over the country have done an incredible job to mobilize and send food, water, and clothing to those in need due to the conflict, continuing the American tradition of benevolence. In times like these, it often goes under reported just how giving our nation is. However, the World Giving Index which measures charitable giving around the world, has for the last 15 years ranked the United States as the most giving nation in the world, and not just by a little, but by a few hundred billion dollars compared to the next country.

Yet since the inception of the United States, giving has been part of our collective narrative. Though injustice and inequality do exist, our ability to give charitably has been a great equalizer that helps us inch a little bit closer to the country. The great business magnate John D. Rockefeller eloquently stated, as Americans, “We think of giving not only as a duty but as a privilege.” A man who would give away over half of his estimated wealth to charity, his generosity serves as a demonstration of just how important and powerful giving can be.

Yet, you don’t have to be a wealthy person to give back. If we cannot give with our wallets, we can give with our time. In last week's Sunshine Report, we discussed the importance of mentorship. Giving your time to nurture a young person in your life can be one way of giving back. Or volunteering at a local community center, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter. There are endless ways to be charitable. And research says where there is giving and charity, there is typically a stronger community as we ourselves build resiliency and our connection to others, while also reaffirming a sense of self. So, as we navigate these uncertain times, consider how you can make a difference. No matter how big or small the act, the important thing is the fact you simply did it.

New Hampshire 'Firsts'

New Hampshire is probably best known for its First-in-the-Nation Presidential Primary, held every four years; however, there are other New Hampshire ‘Firsts’ that you might not know about.

For example, in 1775, New Hampshire was the first colony to boldly declare independence from England, and it also was the first state to have a state constitution in 1776.

In 1800, the first government-issued Navy shipyard was founded on the Piscatagua River in Portsmouth and called of course - the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Ironically, the first naval officer to command the shipyard was…Commodore Isaac Hull. (Get it, ‘hull’ of a boat.) The shipyard also built the first submarine in 1917.

The first all-female strike was held in 1828 to protest mill conditions in Dover, which led New Hampshire to institute the first 10-hour work law in the nation.

Before cell phones, telecommunications cables were used to send messages. The first direct ocean telecommunications cable from Europe to America was completed in 1874 - stretching 3,100 nautical miles from Ireland to Rye, New Hampshire.

New Hampshire was the first place in the U.S. to host an international peace talk. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt used Portsmouth as a neutral ground to negotiate peace between Russia and Japan over the Russo-Japanese war. Interestingly, the aforementioned cable played a key role in literally opening up communications between the warring countries. The success of the peace treaty gave Theodore Roosevelt a Nobel Peace Prize and was the reason for the gift of the cherry trees from Japan that line the Potomac in Washington DC.

In 1909, the first credit union in the nation was organized in Manchester to help Franco-American mill workers save and borrow money. St. Mary’s Credit Cooperative Association.

The first Bird Club and Sanctuary for birds was founded in Meriden, New Hampshire, by Ernest Harold Bynes to protect the birds from plumage being used on women's hats in 1913.

The first film about skiing premiered at the National Ski Association meeting in Chicago in 1932. The film was created by Otto Schniebs of Hanover, and John McCrillis, of Newport, who also wrote the first book about skiing. (On a personal note, I grew up in the house literally beside Mr. McCrillis and his wife Hester. Wonderful people. Got to know them quite well.)

New Hampshire is also home to the first American in space Alan Shepard, and first private citizen in the space program Christa McAuliffe.

New Hampshire has led in firsts ever since the beginning of our nation and hasn’t stopped since! Our motto of ‘Live Free or Die’ has helped develop a mindset in NH citizens that we truly can be the first to think, create and achieve great things!

Would You Like to Adopt a Highway?

Beginning in 1994, the State of New Hampshire began the Sponsor-A-Highway program which is an all-volunteer program where people keep litter off of our streets and highways. Since its inception it has removed over 100,000 bags of trash from our roads and even the bags are donated! Volunteers are rewarded with not only the satisfaction of doing a service for their community but with a sign that lets everyone know who is responsible for the community upkeep.

And it's really quite easy for an individual or group to participate in New Hampshire's Sponsor-A-Highway program. Highways are divided into two categories … Limited Access highways and Secondary highways. For safety reasons, Limited Access highways require the use of "maintenance providers" to perform litter pickup while with Secondary highway litter pickup can be done by the sponsoring group. Individuals or groups wishing to participate in the program can submit an application to the Sponsor-A-Highway Coordinator of the district in which the desired section of highway to be adopted is located.

This program has helped enable many people looking for an outlet to give back and keep our state beautiful. It is an example of innovative thinking and how when given an option, many people will choose to do the right thing. While the sign may be nice, my guess is that it is not the reason why so many people have chosen to adopt a stretch of road. New Hampshire is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I have no doubt that the overwhelming number of people do this for the right reason. It is a great example of how when someone is there to structure a positive program, good things will come!

Positive Profile of the Week: Bob Baines

This week we are delighted to highlight a leading citizen of our largest city, who has undoubtedly touched and helped shape so many lives in a positive way, former Manchester Mayor Bob Baines. Over the years, Bob has given much to the Queen City and New Hampshire. He grew up in Manchester and has never really strayed far from it. And it’s clear several things are important to him – family, education, music, and politics.

Back in 1968, he earned his bachelor’s degree in music education and his first job was as a music teacher in a Hudson, NH high school before becoming its assistant principal. Bob married his wife, Maureen in 1974 and in 1976 earned a master’s in school administration. All this laid the foundation for an exciting and rewarding career that followed.

He has held a variety of positions in education most notably as principal of West High School from 1980 to 1999 during which time he was awarded NH Principal of the Year. 1999 was a transition year for him as he was elected mayor of Manchester – eventually for three terms. While mayor, he was instrumental in helping get the baseball stadium built and bringing the Double AA Fisher Cats to town. Since then, Delta Dental stadium has become a premier regional hub for events of all types.

Bob was more recently a Director with STEAM Ahead NH which is a collaboration between the Manchester School District, the University System of NH, Manchester Community College, and the business community. A unique feature includes the enrichment of the core program with the arts.

Since 2019 he’s been on the NH Community College System’s Board of Trustees representing the Public Sector and is currently the Vice Chair.

It was back in 2001 that Bob Baines started serving blarney and breakfast at what is now known as the ‘Bob Baines Blarney Breakfast.’ For 20 years it was one of the more popular events in Manchester raising $1.5 million for local nonprofit organizations. He even provided some of the music singing the crowd favorite “MacNamara’s Band.” The NH Police Association’s Pipes and Drums would contribute to the festive mood while touching the heartstrings of all. With music being such a key element of this event, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Bob was a member of the 39th Army Band from 1970 – 76.

One of the more memorable moments of the breakfast was when the Shirley Brulotte Community Service Award (in memory of his sister) was given out. This Fund supports the work of the International Institute of New England – an organization that is playing a key role in helping refugees and immigrants so that they can also begin to participate in New Hampshire’s growth and prosperity. Hopefully, we’ll see this crowd-pleasing event back at the DoubleTree soon!

He continues to remain involved in Manchester and NH. In 2018, Governor Sununu appointed him to serve on the Site Evaluation Committee which was established by the legislature for the review, approval, monitoring, and enforcement of compliance in planning, siting, construction, and operation of energy facilities.

A few years ago, he and other like-minded business and education people started ‘Manchester Proud’ where he currently serves as President on the Champions Council. The organization uses a community-based approach and has evolved into a movement focused on building a stronger Manchester through the excellence of its public schools.

While still active, his legacy is also being carried on by his children. Both of his daughters Christina and Catherine are teachers and while his son Tim Baines stepped briefly into local politics, he is now focusing on his business ventures in Manchester – including the popular Mint Bistro and Elm House of Pizza.

We’d like to thank Bob for his years of service to Manchester and NH and would hope that others will pick up the torch and be so inspired to help serve their fellow citizens and state! Well done, Bob, so grateful for all you do!

Quotes of the Week: Generosity

“As Americans, we think of giving not only as a duty but as a privilege.”

John D. Rockefeller

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

Winston Churchill

"The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving."

Albert Einstein

"Not being able to do everything is no excuse for not doing everything you can."

Ashleigh Brilliant"

"The only gift is a portion of thyself."

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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