- "It’s not really about the amount of money; it’s about what is behind what ..
Cynthia Dickens (BA ’96, MS 99) could be simply resting on her laurels right now. But the Chicago native, who has worked in a number of HR positions and most currently leading and overseeing North America and Puerto HR Sales at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, instead chooses to give back to the community that gave to her. Dickens recently published her book Be a Cheerful Giver: Unlock the Promises of God Through Giving about the benefits of giving back.
Could you tell me a little bit about your career?
I’ve been in HR for about 15 years. I currently work for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in an HR function partnering with sales professionals in North America and Puerto Rico. Prior to Pfizer, where I’ve been for six years, I worked for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, ARAMARK, and Sara Lee in various HR roles.
What made you decide to write Be a Cheerful Giver?
I had been asked at church (New Life Covenant Church which services are held at the UIC Pavilion) to do a video testimonial about why I give, which was played throughout our services at church. People began to ask me about giving and tithing. They wanted to give, but a lot of people are just afraid to, or they don’t have money to give. Giving, in my opinion, is not just all about money, although this is something I do. Some people don’t have money to give and therefore think they can’t offer anything other, but they can. You can volunteer—there are so many options out there to help people. At the end of the day, giving for me is a fulfillment in my life and it brings me joy and happiness. It’s about me giving my talents, my tithe, and my services to my family, my church, and to the community. Being a Cheerful Giver refers to that happiness for me when I give to someone or a charity. I am of the belief that it is better to give than to receive. The fact that I have it to give, whether by volunteering, giving away clothes, or feeding someone or giving money, brings an overwhelming feeling of joy to me. We have all heard the saying: “What goes around comes around,” and whether that is good or bad, what you put out there will come back to you. Some people call it karma, I call it reaping what I have sown.
Be A Cheerful Giver is a quick read, I talk about when I was first taught about giving and I walk through my life and how giving has shaped who I am. I give an account of everything that happened to me as I became a giver, when I landed my first job and how I have progressed throughout my career. I increased my giving and it has increased my level of opportunities. The book also goes into testimonials of other people who are givers and how giving has shaped their lives.
Would you say your experience at Loyola inspired you to write the book?
I would say my experience at Loyola as a worker and a student is part of the reason why I wrote the book. I had a great experience at Loyola! Because I worked for the grad school, I was able to complete my undergrad degree and my master’s degree tuition-free. While working at Loyola, I met some great people and worked with some wonderful professors who were very generous and kind to me. They really helped me in a rough period of my life. I will never forget them. Those two professors showed me the spirit of giving at its best.
Specifically, what charities do you support most frequently in your own giving?
I give to the American Red Cross, Loyola, The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, By The Hand, Street Level Youth Media, Interfaith House, Loyola University of Chicago, American Red Cross, and many other organizations and causes. I am currently on the board of the Martin Luther King Jr. Boys and Girls Club of Chicago. I am also a sponsor of LINK Unlimited in Chicago, which is an organization that helps disadvantaged African-American students prepare for college.
What advice would you give to someone willing to give, even if they didn’t necessarily have a lot of money to give?
I would say to them that they should give what they feel in their heart to give. It’s not really about the amount of money; it’s about what is behind what you’re doing. There are times when just donating $5 could really help a lot of people. Whatever you do, just be cheerful about doing it.
To learn more about Be A Cheerful Giver, you can visit Cynthia’s website at www.beacheerfulgivercd.com