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The Art of Giving as a Way of Life

Sarah Ferguson

Sarah, Duchess of York, is a global humanitarian, businesswoman, author, producer and self-proclaimed “philanthrepreneur” who firmly believes that giving saved her life. She says that she is a Celtic woman and attributes her comeback spirit to her Irish and Scottish DNA, and her “red-haired Boadicea strength.” When life and the future seemed bleak, her belief in goodness and kindness, in life and faith, and bestowing that on someone else restored it to herself. She quotes her grandmother who said, “When you feel bad about yourself, give to others.” When the Duchess felt bad, she would go out and do something to help someone else, and that would help her realize how lucky she is.

Lead by Example

The Duchess says that she does not preach to people, but leads by example. For instance, if she were a woman in a refugee camp, she would want personal hygiene for herself, clothes for her children, seeds to plant so she could grow healthy food, and something productive for her husband to do. So when she founded Tasovčići in the former Yugoslavia, she provided those things, including abandoned farm machinery from northern England, which she had recycled into candle-making equipment. The men made candles, since there was no electricity in the camp.  She said, “Those candles burned for 36 hours and what does that give–light and hope. And I think the art of giving is wanting to give hope to somebody.”

Just Show Up and Be Yourself

The art of giving doesn’t require anything special. The Duchess says that all you have to do is show up. You don’t have to bring anything. Bring yourself. People want to feel that someone is listening. In its simplest form, the art of giving is being there for someone and wanting to give them hope. When Oklahoma City was bombed in the 1995, the Duchess followed the first responders into the building and met a woman on the second floor who needed help. She asked her what she could do for her. The woman asked her to save her grandson, P.J. The toddler was 18 months old and burned over 68% of his body. To do this, the Duchess partnered with FAO Schwartz to make replicas of her doll, Little Red, which she sold for $20 each to create a fund to save children like P.J. Little Red has since gone on to save many children and has written an entire series of children’s books.

Making Giving a Lifestyle

Listen to this conversation for many ideas of how giving can become a lifestyle choice. The Duchess says to choose joy every day, and be kind to others whether or not they are kind to you. Check out the Duchess’s amazing charities, including Street Child and stay tuned for more information about Sarah’s Trust, her new tea, which she is calling “The Duchess Collection, a brew to help the crew,” and more children’s books coming from an Australian publisher.

The Duchess is particularly grateful for the American people. She says that Americans welcomed her when she joined Weight Watchers and helped her grow membership from six million to 30 million in 10 years. And she tells the amazing adventures of Little Red after Oklahoma City, including her window view from the 101st floor of the World Trade Center. Listen to hear the whole story and the fate of Little Red, “the long tale of hope,” and how her art of giving is branching out to help the world.

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