“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”
My dance studio, Misty’s Dance Unlimited, has become known for giving back to the community. Some ways are very public, like raising over $400,000 for the local Red Cross by producing seven seasons of Dancing with the La Crosse Stars. Other ways are quiet, like the $150,000 in scholarships we have given out behind the scenes for teachers and students during our first fifteen years of business.
But, MOST of the giving WILL NEVER BE SEEN—and that’s my favorite kind. It’s the teacher who notices a child is struggling and offers to stay and help after class. It’s the mom who takes care of another mother’s child while their family is dealing with a medical crisis. It’s the dad who jumps-starts a car in the parking lot so a student can get to her part time job after class. It’s the student who gives up a Saturday afternoon to perform for residents of a nursing home.
It’s the ORDINARY gestures of kindness that make a business EXTRAORDINARY!
When I started my studio fifteen years ago, I knew that giving would be part of the DNA of the business. After all, I had grown up seeing giving in action in the lives of my parents, my teachers, and mentors.
My parents were givers. I remember my mom making double batches of goulash and sharing with a family down the street. I remember my dad donating his time as a truck driver to haul hay to farmers down south for FARM AID. I remember both parents taking care of a good friend of theirs who had been badly burned in a motorcycle accident. He lived in our living room for five months while he healed from the 3rd degree burns that covered over 80% of his body. What I learned from my parents is that giving is much more about WHO you are than what you HAVE. Sometimes the best thing you can give is your time.
My school teachers were givers. My Academic Decathlon coach opened the library early and stayed late for students. My English teacher gave me the chance to lead my own after school club-a definite precursor to running a dance studio! And, another teacher gave me a card with $100 in it at graduation saying she saw something special in me. Sometimes the best thing you can give is your belief in someone.
I had a mentor in the community who was a giver, too. Deak Swanson, a local business owner, gave me the opportunity to open my own business by constructing and leasing my first building to me—all on a handshake. Looking back, I have often thought, “Who on earth builds and leases a building to a 21 year old dance teacher on a handshake?!” Well, Deak Swanson did. Sometimes the best thing you can give is to give someone a chance.
And, so in honor of my parents, my teachers, and my mentors, I have made it my goal to give, too. And, it is my hope that someday there will be thousands of students will grow up to give of their time, talent, and treasure because they were a part of giving at the dance studio as a kid.
As Aesop said, “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” Here’s to more giving!