An excerpt from “I Like Giving” by Brad Formsma

I Like William

In the affluent Ivy League town of Princeton, New Jersey, someone like William tends to stick out from the crowd. William is sixty-seven years old, and, as is evident by his appearance, he has a disability. William has cerebral palsy. Our family had become aware of William because we’d see him riding around town on his scooter, but mostly we knew William because he swept the sidewalk and opened the door for customers at Starbucks, my local coffee oasis.

Being a bit of a coffee addict, I tend to frequent the Starbucks in downtown Princeton, often going there with my family. From the beginning, we noticed William and took time to get to know him. My three-year-old, Chase, gets especially excited whenever we see William’s scooter outside. Over the past year or so, William has become our friend.

Recently, however, I realized William had a need we could not see. His eyes were bad.  I discovered this one Saturday as I sat working on my laptop. My boys weren’t with me this time, so when William came by, I took more time than usual to talk to him and get to know him better. After we’d been talking awhile, I began to show him some family pictures on my laptop. To my amazement William couldn’t see them even though they were right in front of his face.

I asked William if he had glasses.  As it turned out, he had a pair, but he had accidently sat on them and they were ruined. I had work to do and putting off William’s situation would have been an easy choice, but I felt compelled to act. I called Lens Crafters and made an appointment for three o’clock that same day.

When I got home and announced my plan to my family, my husband laughed kindly at me – he’s not too surprised when I do things like this – and rearranged his schedule so we could take William to the eye doctor as a family. When three o’clock rolled around, with kids in tow, headed over to get his eyes checked.

The optometrist at Lens Crafters picked up on what we were doing and showed special kindness to William. He confirmed that William’s eyes were, in fact, very bad and he made a new pair of glasses for him.

We’re very happy to know that William will be able to see well again, especially as he rides his scooter around town.

Every year I choose one word to focus on for the upcoming year. This year my word was give. While I feel I give my life away every day in caring for two young boys, I have felt less able to give to my community since becoming a mom. Having the opportunity to help William get glasses not only gave me a way to practice giving but because we knew him, it also fostered our relationship with him and our connection to our community.

My faith moved me to help William promptly. I believe we are called to love everyone, even, “the least of these.” In many ways William, a poor disabled man, is disadvantaged in Princeton. It filled me with so much joy that I was able to be a blessing to him in a time of need and model giving to kids in a fresh way. I am grateful to have a part in improving William’s life.  I Like Giving, Pages 9 – 11

For more stories like this one, buy a copy of Brad’s book. You will become more generous than you are today. My meeting with Brad three years ago has influenced me to be more generous with my money and my words. Those are only two of the ways to be generous, according to Brad, there are seven. You will discover that generosity changes not only the receiver, but it changes the giver.  To discover the other ways you can embrace giving, check out Brad’s message. 

Leave a Comment