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A number of years ago I started an organization that made it necessary for me to spend a lot of time asking people for money. To be honest, I didn't think very deeply about what that would involve, or if I was even suited for the job of asking people for money, but I was sure I would figure it out. After all, I had a really good idea. You do what you have to do.

But pretty quickly I grew tired of asking. I sort of started to hate it. No, I did hate it. I became The Asker. I saw it in people's eyes when I approached -- their minds firing up with reasons they hadn't responded to my last appeal, dodging me behind the apple display in the produce aisle. I was branded. And I realized that despite the virtue of my cause, to some people I would always be The Person You Avoid in the Produce Aisle.

And that's OK, because I also discovered something else. And this discovery was life-affirming and awesome: While not everyone said yes - while in fact many people said no - everywhere along my path someone did. Someone stepped forward unexpectedly, connecting in a way that was so pure it made me drunk with hope and gratitude.

There was the Swedish woman who stumbled across our website, sharing her tale of living in a static caravan in the UK. The banjo-strumming schoolteacher who found a "lucky 20" in his pocket and stuck it in the mail. The environmental health officer from Alberta, Canada, feeling blessed by the birth of his daughter. The supply chain professional who turned me on to a great book. The lady from the Feline Rescue, who wrote about doing aid work in Central America years ago.

They all shared their stories. They all reached out to connect, getting nothing in return. And their stories became my stories. They became like an elixir, restoring me to strength.


And I kind of tumbled into love with each of them because they reminded me of why I ask in the first place. Not for the money, but for the idea behind it. The belief that every person matters. To see in each face a story, a life so bright and deserving that the only word you hear is yes.

With a Perspective, I'm Susan Dix Lyons.

Susan Dix Lyons is the founder of an international nonprofit in Angwin that has built a prototype sustainably designed health clinic in rural Nicaragua.