Who is the most compassionate, loving, positive, intuitive and joyful person you know? After spending a few minutes around them, do you find yourself wanting to be like them because of the way they make you feel?
That is a person with heart; that is Kathy Hamilton Hammer.
In my last blog, I wrote about Floyd Hammer, Kathy’s husband, on the topic of Aligning Yourself with People of Vision. Floyd often says that he is the hands and Kathy is the heart of The Outreach Program.
I began my relationship with Floyd and Kathy more than 12 years ago when I traveled to Union, Iowa, to learn about meal packaging events and how they could help me start my own organization. In the first few years, I purchased 25 million meals worth of ingredients and all of the equipment to package those meals from them. Then, eight years ago, I joined their staff.
Since then, I’ve traveled the world with them and, at times, spent as much time in their homes in Iowa as I did my own home in Kansas.
It’s fair to say that I know these folks fairly well. That’s why I can say that aligning yourself with people who have heart is critical to personal and professional growth.
What defines a person with heart?
Compassion: Compassion is defined as caring for the sufferings and misfortune of others. If you spend more than five minutes around her, you will understand her deep desire to provide a future for the world’s most vulnerable children. I’ve been around Kathy when she’s in the presence of governors, ambassadors and some of the world’s most powerful people and I’ve sat with her in the homes of the poorest people in Africa and can tell you with absolute certainty, she treats them the same, with dignity and respect. I assure you she’d prefer the company of the latter.
The best memory I have of Kathy is the exquisite joy on her face as dozens of impoverished children surround her in the Singida Children’s Center that she and Floyd started. The second would be the time she reduced a bunch of hardened prisoners to tears recounting the horrors of watching children die of hunger in the remote village of Nkungi. Big, brawny men sobbed as she told her story.
Love: It is not uncommon for Kathy, in our staff meetings, to tell us she loves us. Seriously, who does that in a company? Kathy. Kathy does that. Without question, she is our matriarch and we all know that Kathy loves us, and, because of that, we work extra hard so as not to disappoint her.
Her love for people comes from a well in her that never runs dry. She’s been deeply betrayed in life yet refuses to let bitterness seep into her heart. The kind of love Kathy has for people motivates them to do better and be better; that’s a powerful kind of love that’s far more than lip service; it’s transformative.
Positivity: I can guarantee that if I called Kathy right now, no matter what her current circumstance, and asked her how she was doing, she would enthusiastically reply, “Fantastic!” She immediately sees the positive in situations and people and positive people give hope that things are going to get better. That’s what makes a positive person like Kathy so easy to follow; she truly believes that there is something good to be found in the worst situations. Positive people are hope-filled people and naturally fill others with that same hope. Our level of happiness in life is directly connected to our level of hope.
Intuitive: I have discovered that compassionate and positive people also have an uncanny ability to assess people and circumstances; they are not not pushovers or softies. While they root for the underdog and have amazing grace for the down-and-out, they can sniff out a scheme and schemer with uncanny ability. I have learned to pay attention to Kathy’s intuition; in my experience of working for her and with her, she’s batting a thousand.
Joyful: People with heart have a constant source of joy that carries them like a river through all of the good times and bad. Joy is a deep, abiding sense of pleasure at, and with, all things in life. Mark Twain said the happiest two days of our life are the day we were born and the day we discover why. Joy is deeply rooted in understanding the ‘why’ of life and Kathy understands her ‘why’; to provide a future for the world’s most vulnerable children. Everything that Kathy does, and is, centers around that purpose. She’s not confused about why she is here and that solid, resolute living out of her purpose is a constant source of inspiration to all of us who have the pleasure of knowing her.
It is good to align with people who have heart, like Kathy, to remind us that we were put on earth to make the world a better place.
As Nicholas Sparks writes, “It is the possibility that keeps me going, not the guarantee.”
People with heart infuse us with dreams of possibility.