Time out with T.O. - The power of giving
Teresa and Matt Clark
"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
― Winston Churchhill
It's been said the most generous people are those who give silently without hope of praise or reward.
A UNMC couple -- Teresa and Matt Clark -- fits that description to a T.
For more than 25 years, the Clarks have quietly been huge supporters of the Heart Ministry Center, which is affiliated with their longtime church -- Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Each Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Clarks go out and buy hundreds of items that are included as side dishes for holiday dinners that the Heart Ministry Center provides to needy families.
It's a labor of love.
"We're not rich by any means. We're just normal people," said Teresa Clark, longtime administrative associate for Rod Markin, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for business development and director of UNeTech.
"We save all year to do this," said Matt Clark, a zone facility technician for facilities management and planning. "Buying food for other people's holidays is how we like to spend our money. It has become our holiday tradition. It is how we celebrate."
The Clarks have been married for 23 years and have known each other for more than 35 years. They long ago stopped buying each other birthday or Christmas gifts. They would much rather save their money and use it to buy food for needy families.
Their generosity comes back to them many times over in the appreciation that the families show when they receive the food baskets.
One of Teresa's favorite memories occurred several years ago. "My sister (Diana Schneider in the UNMC College of Nursing) and I delivered a basket to a family, and the little girl exclaimed, 'Oh boy! We get to eat all week long.'"
Turns out one of the benefits of charitable giving is that it's contagious.
"It's inspired other people in our family to donate," Teresa said. "Matt's mom wanted to buy stuff. Our son, Kyle, gave to the fund for victims of Hurricane Katrina. My sister runs the Adopt-a-Family program for the College of Nursing.
"Honestly, we would much rather not be highlighted in this story. The only reason we agreed to do it was that we hoped it would encourage others to get behind their own cause."
Perhaps Eric Crawford, CEO of Heart Ministry Center, captured the spirit of the Clarks best. "They are selfless and caring. The world could use more people like them."
Can't say it much better than that.