"Help thy brother's boat across, and lo, thine own has reached the shore." Confucius
First and foremost I am a humanitarian. The welfare of others has always driven me beyond self-imposed boundaries of shyness, confidence, and feelings of acceptance. Where does it begin? The last of nine children, in a close-knit family, we learned the value of working as a team, and the harsh consequences of not being willing to share. I believe the values one learns in childhood stay with you.
Whether it be going to the young mother trying to get the stroller through a door, loaded with groceries and with a three-year-old attached to her skirt; or enabling someone to reach their potential by words of encouragement; or assistance via cold hard cash input; our own lives are enriched inexplicably when we reach out to others in ways big and small.
Our ethics and sense of morality are infused early in life. We more fully comprehend this as we grow older and although my husband and I have personalities as unalike as chalk and cheese, our ethics and sense of social justice go together (in the words of Forrest Gump) like ‘peas and carrots’. It is this realisation that has enabled us to work together as a team through the years.
It is said, “if you are not an idealist at 20, you have no heart, if you are not a realist at 30 you have no brain”. Don’t believe it. Time, experience, and our own inner drivers allow us to retain the first and hone the other. I count myself fortunate to have been born in the time I was. Our entertainment was self-produced. Outside play, and inside reading. I was an avid reader and that coupled with a vivid imagination, I believe, encourages the creative instinct to grow. We can all, at least in the mind, channel the ordinary into extraordinary possibility.
Short-circuiting a laborious life story to the causes of the Wright Family Foundation, I can lay the impetus for the organisation at the feet of a love of words, people, and the personal belief that the earth is a ‘stopping-off’ place. So how might we make this journey the best journey we can for others? I (we) have had secure, loving upbringings. Neither of us were born with the proverbial ‘silver spoon’. However, we both believe our childhoods and subsequent choices of life partners were incredibly fortunate.
As far as we can, we want to enable children to grow to their full potential, to find joy in life. We believe education, in the broadest sense, is the pathway. When Michelangelo looked at a block of marble he did not invent the shape to come from it, rather he caused that which was invisible to emerge. This is how I see our mission to those who we might affect in a positive way.
We talk of children as being ‘the future’. But what about the 18-year-old mother who has another 70 years before her to become all she might be? What about the 16-year-old boy who has left school and cannot read? What about those who began their lives in harsh environments and never got to hear the words, “she can do anything she puts her mind to”, like I did.
My life has had its crosses to bear, but we can make a choice to curl up in the fetal position and ask “why me?” or we can say “why am I still here if not to gladden the hearts of others?”
Why perpetuate the collectively constructed notion of the ordinary; I say, look for the extraordinary. Grasp every opportunity to embrace humanity, warts and all, and in so doing we leave pieces of our hearts behind.
The culmination of a lifetime of work has led to the formation of The Wright Family Foundation. We, as a couple, have always put a hand out, quietly, over the years, to many causes. But now our primary focus will be in the broad strokes of education. We are strong supporters of Plunket, we fund and are growing the New Zealand Spelling Bee, and we are thrilled to sponsor the Kids’ Lit Quiz- a pathway to creative thought.
Our family recognises the word humanitarian over the word philanthropist. To us, humanitarian means to wrap oneself around humanity, to seek out the best in people and, where one is able, to put out a hand. Confucius said: “Help thy brother's boat across, and lo, thine own has reached the shore.” With our sons Joseph and Samuel in particular, we intend to be there as often and for as many as we can within New Zealand.