Service, to me, is the key to personal fulfillment. In my many years of observing the human race, it seems to me the happiest people are those who give and give freely, not expecting any pay or even any publicity. A heartfelt thanks is often enough. Best of all is when folks give in such a way as to be totally anonymous… the thanks is understood, just not publicly acknowledged. On the other hand, giving for the recognition - well, yes, it does do some good, of course, but I have a feeling the brownie points don’t count… it is no longer real giving, it is buying publicity. Do you know what I mean?
We all have the opportunity to GIVE to others in so many ways. Maybe you have tons of money and you can set up your own foundation to help others. Maybe all you can do monetarily is a small donation to the Red Cross, or put a bit in the SPCA jar on the counter at the convenience store. Or, maybe you are lucky enough to fall somewhere in between…
Many of us give to Foodbanks, thrift shops and the like. Likewise, buying stuff from thrift shops is also supporting a charity. We have 3 thrift shops within 2 miles of my home. I donate to 2 of them regularly, the Hospice thrift store and the Foodbank. I used to patronize the 3rd shop, but they “cleaned” it up and have tried to make it into a boutique or something, so I no longer go there. There is little on the racks – I love to buy big old shirts to work out in the yard in, and used to buy lots of clothes for kids who had little or nothing to wear to school. But, I go elsewhere now.
Whereas giving money or goods is nice, there is still another way to give to others… service. That could mean volunteering in a thrift store, Foodbank, hospice, the literacy council, soup kitchens, hospitals, or any other number of places where your labor is greatly appreciated.
There are those who also give and do for others every day in totally unsung ways. These people go unnoticed, their names don’t get put on plaques or in the papers… these are the folks who step up, show up, lend a few muscles or brain power when someone else in the neighborhood has a need. These are the real heroes!
A perfect example of this would be my neighbor whose identity will be protected here… I needed help a week or so ago getting some furniture on sale for a woman moving back to the Shore and getting her own place for the first time in years. She had a bag of clothes (luggage by Hefty) and her stereo. Period. Sometimes life does things like that. She gets a disability check. That is her income. Fortunately, we have housing for people with circumstances like hers, and she was able to get an apartment.
I have known her since she was a little kid, 6 or 7 years old. I figured even back then, this was one of those kids who was going to have a hard life and struggle for every good moment. To say her life as a child was pure hell is pretty close to the truth. So now, MANY years later, she has come “back home” and is trying to put her life back together. she needed some serious help. Her family had a few things to give her, I picked up a futon on sale and a couple other things. Have you noticed, everything you buy today has to be assembled? Geez!
I got my neighbor to help me get the futon in my van, and then again, a week later, he helped unload the van and move my stuff and her family’s stuff up into the gal’s apartment. The family said they could put it all together. (BEEEEEEP- wrong.) So, the other day, once again, my neighbor gave up what he was doing and we spent 4 hours on the floor of her apartment putting together a futon, floor lamp, bistro set, and book case. Until last week, he had never even heard of this woman, and possibly might never see her again.
He is one of my unsung heroes. He has come to my rescue many times. I hope he realizes how much he is appreciated. His wife is also a good friend who often helps him on his projects when he takes on jobs for other people. She is a good sport about it and is usually there when she is not volunteering in a thrift store. To me, they define what neighbors are supposed to be like.
Another neighbor has been fussing with me lately – I don’t even remember what I needed help doing, but I did not ask him and he felt left out. “You MUST learn to ask for help,” he said! Ah, but it is so difficult… but I can ask if it is to help someone else!
Another friend, a dear young man, calls frequently to see how I am doing, if everything is all right and if he can do anything for me. I am not sure what I have done to deserve all this helpful attention, but I sure am grateful. When he called today, he asked if I had everything taken care of in preparation for the hurricane. I said I was in good shape, most everything was either put away or bungeed to each other so they would not blow around. At the time he called, I had just come in from cutting some branches off the redbud where they were hitting the side of the house and the new roof. I bought a little 8 inch extension chain saw a couple years ago – I usually use it at the 8 foot point, but it goes up to 12 feet – a bit too much for me. I figure if the saw is 8 feet away, I stand a good chance of not cutting off my toes or fingers! Well, the next thing I know, this handsome young man is in my driveway on his lunch hour cutting the 12 foot away branches off my trees. It was amazing what he could do! He cut and cut until the battery went dead, and came back after work to finish the last branch. He had to climb up on a ladder AND use the 12 feet of saw handle to reach it. He didn’t have to do this.
These guys are not family. I have no family around here. They just believe in helping others. Of the 3 I mentioned, 2 consider themselves Christian, one occasionally attends church, the other does not, and the 3rd is working on becoming a Buddhist, a “religion” of service to others.
This is what it is all about… helping each other… I do not know of any religion that does not tell us to help one another. Living in a predominantly Christian area, and having spent much of my life in and around Christian churches, I know it is supposed to be a part of Christianity, yet I also know numerous folks who claim to be Christian who would not do a thing for anyone. I have several neighbors who know my level of ability is limited… one who is forever calling me on the phone for advice (read to complain about his life, his wife, even though he knows I will yell at him about getting sober and getting his life back on track.) he attends church on a regular basis and goes to a Christian counselor. Would he do anything for anybody? Nah. And if you asked him, he would call someone else to see if they would take care of it. Which is probably a good thing, come to think of it…
I also have several Muslim friends who have come by and helped me in the yard. They refuse ever to take any money for anything they do for me. So, I do anything for them when they need someone to help cut thru the paper work or get them enrolled in college… or find furniture… They also feed me very well!
Friendship, service… just knowing that I have friends there, what a blessing. Perhaps you have family, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandkids – I don’t have any of them around here, but I do have wonderful friends.