Denise McCabe with her gift, for a member of Vincent House, a nonprofit clubhouse that provides help for people with mental illness.
Denise McCabe with her gift, for a member of Vincent House, a nonprofit clubhouse that provides help for people with mental illness. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]

Grandfather’s actions in 1929 inspired 2020 donation

Gift giver likes to imagine the downstream effect of charity.
Published Apr. 27, 2020
Updated May 15, 2020
Gift giver likes to imagine the downstream effect of charity.

Fred Rogers once said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

An occasional series.

Denise McCabe does not want to be known as a do-gooder.

She wants to start a chain reaction.

This is how she sees it:

“When you help someone, you help the family who is worried about them and all the friends who are worried about them - and then as they go through life, you affect their future family and future friends. You make all those people and all those relationships more positive, and the positivity just feeds on itself down the road.”

She tells the story of a strapping young man, with a steel safe, in 1929.

“My grandfather was from the old country,” she said. “He didn’t believe in banks, and he was very, very successful in business.”

Then the Depression hit.

“He was the only guy with money, so he opened his safe, and he started giving. He never had anybody sign a loan agreement. He just gave the money away. ”

She wonders how many families have a different life today because of her grandfather.

McCabe volunteers with Vincent House, a nonprofit clubhouse in Pinellas Park for people with mental illness. She heard recently about a club member with an injured foot who was living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because his oven was broken. She bought him a microwave. She saw it as another chance to start a chain of events.

Do you know a Helper? Contact jpendygraft@tampabay.com.

Read other stories in this series:

Butcher John Riesebeck is embracing a family tradition

SPC professor creates 3D-printed face shields for medical workers

Retired teacher turned mask maker finds herself busier and busier

Isolation, frustration inspired action for Gulfport woman

Community activist finds new role during the pandemic

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