I like gambling; used to play in a regular poker game. But I prefer fair odds, so I’m not a fan of playing against the house. I did it only once, when I was 17: dropped 85c worth of nickels into a slot machine in Reno. That was it, until recently. I was cashing in some bottles at the supermarket and when I took my receipt to the service counter, there was the lottery ticket machine. I’d been reading about the 1.4 billion dollar prize, and on a lark threw in enough change to add up to a $2 ticket.
Like so many, I found myself envisioning my new life as a billionaire. Over the next couple of days I planned it all out.
First there was the personal stuff. My 2000 Chevy Metro can be replaced with a more reliable car, maybe a Honda Fit. Pay off the mortgage. Pay off another couple of (family) mortgages as well. The local biodiesel plant is looking for a final small loan to start operation. Donations to my children’s school, and to the shul we go to. I know a couple of single mothers who could use some help. And a family member’s business.
How to become rich without messing up the kids? Probably give them each $100 to blow, as a celebration, and then go back to our normal life, so they don’t get spoiled. Maybe start a charitable foundation and have the kids participate in deciding where the donations will go.
Then the nonprofit org, Trauma Institute & Child Trauma Institute, that I founded and continue to run. Give the staff raises. With serious money we can get a lot more research done, and establish intensive trauma therapy as a standard therapy format that much sooner. Also fund lots of training fellowships to build up the expertise in our brand of trauma-informed therapy. I’ll still do some therapy and some training, continue mentoring our trainers... but we’ll have a managing director so I won’t have to run the show anymore.
And then what? I’m extremely concerned about the environment, as well as civil rights, but I found my focus going to abuse/violence prevention. Because 58,000 children per year are court-ordered to unsupervised time with known abusers. Because non-offending parents routinely lose custody to child abusers. Because most rapes are not even reported, and only 3% of rapists serve time. Because women and children are being murdered every day by their fathers, husbands, boyfriends, and exes. And perhaps because I so often work with people whose exposure to abuse and violence could have, and should have, been prevented.
We know a lot about how to prevent abuse and violence, so I have some good ideas about where to contribute. A million dollars each to Center for Judicial Excellence, Child Justice, and Stop Abuse Campaign. And convene a team of attorneys to identify promising legal strategies to develop case law to protect victims of violence and abuse, and then fund the test cases.
It came as a bit of a shock to discover that the money didn’t come through! I didn’t win the jackpot, didn’t win one of the million dollar prizes, or even a four dollar prize. Nothing. Even so, the two bucks I put down was money well spent. It afforded an opportunity to consider my priorities and what I can do even without the extra billion. We’re still getting the research done. We're working on raising funds for a managing director position. I can still involve my children in philanthropy, even if the donations are $10 instead of $10K. The new car, though, will have to wait.
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