Sunday, 5 April 2015

Giving Back

What do you do to give back? I was always told-not even taught, hahaha-that I had to give to others in some way. I had to give to those who didn't have and to those who did have. Whether it was kindness, a hug, a ride, money, or time and/or energy, that was a rule. When I was finally making enough money that I had disposable income at the end of each month, my mom told me it was time to either find a charitable organization to donate money to or volunteer. Volunteering was much more difficult for me because of time constraints. However, every month, I would give money to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

When I left Ontario for British Columbia (for graduate school), those donations stopped since, as a poor graduate student, I couldn't afford to give. I can't explain exactly why I never resumed donating to any organization. All I know is that for the past few months, and more pressingly now for a few weeks, I've come to understand how badly I WANT to give back. As Easter approached this year, we received a big paper bag tucked into the (crappy) LFP newspaper. It was a request to donate food (before Easter weekend). The bag was from the London Food Bank and reading the statistics stamped onto the bag, I felt my heart drop. If you're interested in the (alarming) stats, please refer to the following websites: http://www.oafb.ca/hungerreport2014 and http://www.londonfoodbank.ca/events/2013-spring-food-drive/

I filled up the huge paper bag with non-perishable food items and dropped it off at my local London Fire Hall (as per the instructions on the bag). It felt good to give back, but I felt horrible about the current situation that many Ontarians are facing: the inability to afford food. As I read the statistics online, I saw a familiar group call out to me: recent grads. My heart sank even lower. Only a day after I dropped off the bag (it was reassuring to see other donations when I went to the fire hall!!!!), I received The Economist with this headline:

Sadly, I question whether I made the right choice. I know how thankful I am for my degrees as they've taught me invaluable life lessons, but if I can't afford to pay my bills, then what good has it done me??? You can find articles here: http://www.economist.com/printedition/2015-03-28

Yesterday, I decided that I needed to start doing MORE good without any consideration to how it will benefit me. Sounds easy, but of course there's the argument that doing good makes one feel good, so it is not an unselfish act. I understand that sentiment, but I have never gone out of my way to seek recognition or hope that karma will bring those good deeds back to me. I just want to make someone's life a little easier, make them smile and perhaps let them know that someone-even if it's a stranger-cares :)

I'm also increasingly aware of the world that we live in and I'm not happy participating in aspects which are completely self-serving. Yes, money is important, but it's not everything. I'm a realist and I believe in balance. However, I am someone who wants the best for others. I am someone who believes that there is good in every human being. I know that I cannot live happily if I don't lead by example. I teach, but I don't feel like that is giving back enough. I can do more and so I should be doing more. In spite of this, I have yet to find a profit OR not-for-profit organization that will hire me to work for them. Shocking, isn't it? I've offered my services, time, resources, knowledge, etc., easily to over 100 organizations and not one has taken me up on my offer. I, optimistically, assume that this means that I just haven't found the right organization for me. So, until I find an organization...Or it finds me, I have a small mission.

My mission was clear: bestow ten acts of kindness on different people: acquaintances, strangers, people who may seem as if they need it and people who seem as if they don't. EVERY person is fair game! I'm not giving myself a time limit. I've decided to do this partly to recognize sacrifice (especially with Easter here!), partly to give since I am able to, partly as a way to lead by example and hopefully inspire others to give back as well and partly because I would feel terrible if one day some doctor, nurse or other medical worker/volunteer came to know me and thought, "Wow, what did we save her life for?!?" I can't begin to list the people who have helped me, but they're numerous, and I don't know some; there were countless doctors and nurses who worked to keep me alive when I was sick as a child. I think it would be a waste if I was saved and I didn't do anything to This is the time to serve :)

(Random) Act of Kindness #1: One of my all-time favourite ways to give is to go through the drive-through at Tim Horton's and pay for the order of the person behind me. My mom used to do this all the time and people would literally honk and wave their arms at her in thanks. It's simple, but I LOVE IT!!! Bonus if it's morning rush hour!!! Start someone's work day by getting them their AM dose of caffeine! I did this on Thursday while I was on my way to work :)
(Random) Act of Kindness #1: Complete.

While trying to think of what to do for numbers 2 through 10, I got a brilliant idea: get suggestions from readers. Why not? I'm sure there are people out there who would love to give back, but are unable to for some reason or another. Obviously I'm not able to donate hundreds or thousands of dollars. However, if someone can suggest a worthy cause to donate to, I'll happily look into it and follow-up! I am able to give time and even my efforts in ways that others may not be able to because of time or physical restraints. I can do something on your behalf and make that clear :)  Or, is there some way you wish someone would help you? In desperate need of a night out with your partner and wish someone would kindly offer to babysit your kids (or pets) for free? Are you physically impaired and need some help but don't know who to ask? Ever wish your child had a mentor who they could do things or speak with openly in a safe environment (no judging or spilling of secrets) with? Let me know something that you think someone would appreciate and I will do it! Lastly, my aim is not only to help people. I am open to helping animals (domesticated and wild) as well as the environment :)

My last request is an important one: Please HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE!!! I can get scared, worried AND lazy. That's part of the reason I'm posting this publicly, lol!!!

Happy Easter!!!

*I wrote this post almost a week before Easter Sunday and have since started the process of applying to volunteer with the Alzheimer Society (London & Middlesex), and if it's successful, I will count that towards one of the acts of kindness)*

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