It really is a small world.
I boarded a Delta Airlines flight earlier this week in Honolulu for the long trip back to Kansas City. Hartsook Companies has just begun a five-year relationship with a Volcano, Hawaii-based organization seeking $50 million in philanthropic support.
I glanced up at the flight attendant as I took my seat. She looked familiar.
Could it be?
As she passed back up the aisle, I asked if she and her family had spent time years ago at the Sanibel Inn on Sanibel Island, Fla.
It was the same Pat Ferraro who, six years earlier, had spent a week with her family on the Sanibel beach. The same week my family spent there.
The memories are for the scrapbooks. We got acquainted. We enjoyed each other’s kids. The Beems even took over the Ferraros’ beach umbrellas which, having been purchased at the beginning of their trip, were too cumbersome to cart home on the plane.
And now, six years later, I’m on a flight with Pat heading back to the mainland. Unbelievable. Or is it?
In our shrinking world, relationships are more important than ever. As technology draws every corner of the globe closer together, they’re the currency and conscience of our conduct.
The year before we visited Sanibel, we spent a late-summer week at Pehrson Lodge in Minnesota’s north woods.
Who’d have thought we’d meet a neighbor there?
During our first day at Pehrson, I spotted a familiar logo on a cap. Upon closer inspection, I identified it as J.E. Dunn’s insignia.
Tom Hall worked at the time for a J.E. Dunn landscape contractor, and he now offices less than two miles from our home. We enjoyed getting to know the Halls, who live in St. Joseph, Mo. Until last year, we spent a week every summer together at Pehrson.
There’s also Don Armacost Jr. Don is a Kansas City corporate leader and philanthropist with whom I occasionally interact. He’s also a friend of a family member.
During our first meeting, Don and I zeroed in on our common connection: My sister-in-law, who spent five years working in Peterson Manufacturing’s Human Resources Department. Don has a lot of respect for Molly, a relationship that made a difference in my early interaction with him.
With more than 6.6 billion inhabitants, the world is a big place. Yet relationships connect us in ways that shrink our globe and create powerful connections that shape our lives.
As coincidence would have it, the Beem family will spend a few days later this month at the Sanibel Inn. We’re looking forward to returning to our old haunt and reminding our kids what draws us back.
We’ll play on the same beach. We’ll eat at the same restaurants. We’ll visit the same places.
And we’ll enjoy the shade of the Ferraros’ umbrellas, which have sat at the ready all these years in our garage. They’ll provide a nice dose of cover from the Florida sun and, I suspect, remind us of an earlier time when we had fun and developed memories of a place called Sanibel Island.
Who has made their mark on your life? Have you carried on their legacy? Stored up their gift for the future?
Relationships are the currency and conscience of our conduct.
Build them. Value them. Use them.
Matt Beem is president of Hartsook Companies, an international fundraising consulting firm. He lives in Independence.