Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Indirect Thank You from a Catskills resident and a valuation lesson

BonaResponds Volunteers helping in Margaretville
I received the following (only SLIGHTLY edited) from another SBU professor today:

"I was recently speaking at an American Legion Post downstate in Delhi, New York.  After the dinner and speeches were done a woman came up to me and asked if it was true that I worked at St. Bonaventure and I said yes. She immediately started to cry and wound up just holding me.  I asked her what was the matter and she said that we have no idea how much the help from the BonaResponds students meant to her family and their area recently ravaged by the floods. She went on about that for awhile with several folks listening since they saw her crying, when I left their Post about a hour later she came up and thanked me again and wanted to make sure the folks back at Bonas knew how much that meant. "
I have no idea who the woman was.  No clue. I do not even know if we worked on her home or not.  It could be any of many that were helped on that trip, or a family member, or even just a neighbor who was worried about someone we helped.  I have no idea.

I do know that many many times we have no idea of the residual impact of our work.  (think butterfly in Africa).  We can measure the dollar value of a job, but it fails to measure the true impact.  I know that since graduation in May BonaResponds has provided about $300,000 in services to people.  I report that to the BonaResponds board regularly.  But the true value of this can not be completely measured in US dollars, Haitian Gourdes, or Ghanaian Cedi.  To get the true value you can start with the currency but must also add in hugs, smiles, reduced anxiety, and tears of joy. And as a finance professor who teaches valuation, I just do not know how to value those, so I guess they are priceless :).

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