Happy Valentine’s Day, Greater Washington! While the fourteenth of February is perhaps not my favorite holiday, I couldn’t resist a brief search to see whether valentines and philanthropy shared any common news. Sure enough, I came across this in the San Francisco Chronicle — certainly not inside the Beltway, but we like to branch out sometimes:
There is more to Valentine’s Day than flowers or conversation hearts [...]
Consultant and writer Elaine Gast Fawcett of www.FourWindsWriting.com has published a list of 16 Charitable Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at www.PhilanthropyWriting.com, offering alternative ways to spread the love — and generosity — on February 14th.
[...] “What I’m offering is a new take on the holiday. Rather than get caught up in all the commercialism surrounding Valentine’s Day, here are 16 ways to feel connected to others–whether you are in a romantic relationship or not.”
Reading through the list, I quite enjoyed #12: “Say It With Organic Flowers” and #11: “Be a Fair Trade Valentine.” And more than 100 new suggestions appear in the comments. But I also think that the list makes a broader point, one which certainly extends to the other 364 days of the year:
With Valentines or otherwise, giving can take myriad forms. We give back through philanthropy for certain — but also by volunteering as tutors or nature stewards, by spreading the word about the need for clothing or books, or even by spending a date night at a local non-profit gallery or theatre. We give back to our communities by being engaged in them and that can happen any day, in any number of ways. We give back by investing in where we live.
In conclusion, I also did a bit of research on the etymology of “Valentine” — which, as it happens, was the name of two saints and derives from the Latin “valentia” or “strength and capacity.” “Valence” derives from that same word, “valentia,” and refers to the “combining power of an element.” I assume that the definition primarily refers to chemicals and not communities, but we nonetheless can speculate that Valentine’s Day (perhaps) celebrates the strength inherent in teaming up, in sharing, in acting as one.
So, how would you like to celebrate the power of shared strength in Greater Washington?