Veterans Aid Coalition

 “We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.” –Unknown

For many Americans, the term “veteran” is one that we are familiar with. We’ve heard it in reference to “Veteran’s Day”, War Veterans, World War II veteran, Vietnam veteran, and many more. According to Wikipedia, a veteran is defined as “A person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field. A military veteran is a person who has served and is no longer serving in the armed forces. Those veterans that have had direct exposure to acts of military conflict may also be referred to as war veterans.”Veterans are also those who have seen combat and are still serving in the armed forces.

The effects of war and combat on veterans has far-reaching effects that extend far away and long after the battlefield has ended. Some wounds are obvious to spot, such as, physical deformities and amputations whereas, some are harder to see. Some veterans return home with physical reminders in the form of amputations, burns, paralyzed, and even bullet holes. Unfortunately, many veterans return from combat with scars and wounds that they battle with behind closed doors.  For many, that includes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bi-polar disorder (manic-depression), sleep disorder, substance dependence and more. Although, many do return home, with invisible scars and wounds of war, it is important to note that not every veteran who sees conflict returns home “broken” or “damaged” as is often depicted in movies and on television.

It is when they have returned home and are no longer faced with life-threatening conflict that many of these side-effects are made known. For some the side-effects of war and conflict rear their ugly head shortly after returning home, for other veterans it takes longer for the ill-effects of war to manifest themselves. Regardless of when or if depression, anxiety and other effects are made known, it is imperative that veterans receive the help that they need and have earned.

Upon returning home from war, service members are not the only ones who have to make an adjustment to the “new normal”. Often times their spouse and children have become accustomed to daily life without them, operating daily as a single-parent family for the time that their service member is away. Upon return home, schedules the parental roles have to be redefined. This adjustment is not always easily made as young children often have a hard time adjusting to another parent’s discipline, whereas older children can push back to see what they will be able to get away with.

Because returning home is an adjustment period for everyone involved, it is no surprise that some service members have a harder time than others. This is especially true for those who have suffered an injury due to combat, or have lost fellow comrades in combat. We know that the effects of war can have far-reaching effects that service members carry with them long after the dust has settled on the battlefield. Because the side-effects are varied and affect a vast array of individuals, it is imperative that resources that make it easier for service members to adjust back into their life are easily and readily available.

Through organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project, Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial Fund, veterans and their families have access to resources that can aid them through the transition home and provide treatment for injuries—physical and mental that, sustained as a result of their service to our great nation.

Wounded Warrior Project

According to the Wounded Warrior Project’s website, there are over 52,000 service men and women who have been physically injured during recent military conflicts. Additionally, there are 500,000 veterans currently living with invisible wounds as a result of their military service. These wounds include depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. A whopping, 320,000 veterans are experiencing a debilitating brain injury.

With these staggering numbers, it is apparent that there is a need for resources, and services to repay veterans for their service and sacrifice. That is why it is the mission of the Wounded Warrior Project to aid veterans who have or are serving in our nation’s military on or after September 11, 2001 and have suffered a physical or mental injury as a result.

There are a variety of programs and resources available to veterans and their families, through the Wounded Warrior Project. These programs and resources include:

Connecting to Others

Whether you are a veteran seeking support or the caregiver, Wounded Warrior Project has support groups to help you through. When you connect with others through Wounded Warrior Project, you have access to a listening ear, a helping hand and a community of supporters who are there to help you on your way to success. There are support groups, whose mission is to provide help and support to veterans and their family members and caregivers.

Mental Wellness

One out of every three veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Surprisingly, that same statistic, one out of three feel as though they do not receive the mental health that they need in order to cope. In order to address the need to meet the demand, Wounded Warrior Project, has established interactive programs, rehabilitative retreats and professional services. These programs are designed to help and enable veterans to build the resilience that they need in order to be able to overcome the many mental health challenges that many veterans encounter upon returning home.

Physical Wellness

It is not that uncommon for veterans to sustain a physical injury through their time in the service. Not all physical injuries are visible to others, some are injuries that prevent them from being physically active, getting into shape, or back and joint problems. Other physical injuries are more obvious in the form of missing limbs, confined to a wheelchair, burns, and more. Regardless of the physical injury, Wounded Warrior Project is dedicated to helping veterans realize how strong they are despite their injury and to help them see results. The goal of the Wounded Warrior Project’s physical wellness support is to help veterans eat better, feel better and sleep better. 

Career and VA Benefits Counseling

When veterans transition out of the service, it can be a challenging time with important conversations that need to be had. One conversation is that of money. While no one ever wants to worry about money or even talk about money, it is an important conversation to have prior to transitioning to civilian life. With the help of Wounded Warrior Project, they make it so that talking about money and finances is inspiring rather than depressing, by helping veterans to realize that their financial goals for the future are in fact possible. This includes learning more about the benefits that they have earned as a result of their service, how to access and get their benefits, finding a career path, or even finding a job that will help them along their career path. Wounded Warrior Project is there to help veterans, every step of the way navigating their career and VA benefits following their military service.

Personal Independence

When given the right support and resources needed, every veteran, every warrior has the ability to achieve and live a civilian life, post military service that is worth living. The Independence Program that is offered through Wounded Warrior Project, was designed to help any veteran who is suffering from a moderate-to-severe brain injury, spinal cord injury, or a neurological condition, to make and take positive steps towards living an independent life outside of the military.

Because every injury and veteran are different, Wounded Warrior Project works as a team with each veteran and their family to assess their needs, set goals and build a personalized plan that will be the most beneficial to them. Through the team of support, veterans are able to work towards gaining their independence, while families and caregivers are able to find some relief by sharing the burden of caring for their loved one. 

If you would like to contribute and help Wounded Warrior Project continue to provide these services to wounded veterans and their families, you can make a donation through the Veterans Aid Coalition campaign found on https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/.  Through the generous donations that Wounded Warrior Project receives, they are able to provide all programs and resources to veterans in need, free of charge.

Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust

The mission of the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust is to empower veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. For over thirty years, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Charitable Service Trust has been playing an instrumental role in supporting and aiding ill and injured veterans and their families. In order for DAV Charitable Service Trust to achieve their mission of helping veterans live life with dignity and respect, they provide support and work to support the needs of veterans. This is achieved through supporting physical and psychological rehabilitation programs, enhance research and mobility for veterans with spinal cord injuries and amputations, aging veterans, aids and shelters for homeless veterans and evaluates and addresses the needs of veterans wounded in recent wars. In addition to supporting the needs of veterans, DAV Charitable Service Trust also supports programs that are intended to provide resources and support to caregivers and families of ill and injured veterans.

The Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust was formed in 1986, as a way to advance programs and services that were offered to better be able to cater to our nation’s veterans, their caregivers and families. The support that the DAV Charitable Service Trust offers to different charitable organizations, helps to ensure that America is fulfilling the promises it has made to those who have made such tremendous sacrifices for national safety and security.

How it Works

Since its founding, the DAV Charitable Service Trust has led a grant program for not-for-profit organizations that provide the necessary resources to fulfill the needs of veterans. These needs include the sick, wounded, homeless, and at-risk veterans across the nation. Because often times the needs of the veterans varies depending on their specific needs and situations, DAV Charitable Service Trust provides grant funds to aid other not-for-profit organizations who can provide various resources and services to meet the needs.

agoodcause - veteran applying for a grant

According to the DAV Charitable Service Trust website, the most common grants that they distribute are used to promote food, shelter and other necessary items to veterans who are homeless or at risk-veterans, mobility items for those who have experienced vision or hearing loss or amputations, therapeutic or recreational activities, and education training. Additionally, grants have been issued to aid and support families and caregivers. DAV Charitable Service Trust does not generally provide funds to support advertising, initiatives that are affiliated with any given political party, religious group or campaign, endowment funds, pilot or newly established projects, or funds to acquire or maintain property.

How You Can Help

Every year, DAV Charitable Service Trust has funds to distribute; where they encourage qualified not-for-profit organizations to submit a detailed proposal to be considered for grant funding. Once funding has been approved, veterans and their families can benefit from the services that are available as a result of the funding provided by the DAV Charitable Service Trust.

DAV Charitable Service Trust relies on donations to make grants possible, therefore, they have made it easy for those who would like to make monetary donations. You can make donations online at https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/, where all funds are distributed and used to give back to the veterans that protect our freedoms.

Veterans of Foreign Wars

The mission of Veterans of Foreign Wars is to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. Furthermore, their mission is to serve all veterans, the military and communities, advocating on behalf of all veterans. Along with their mission of serving veterans, the Veterans of Foreign War’s vision is to ensure that veterans are respected for their selfless service to our country, and that they always receive the entitlements that they have earned, and that veterans and their families are recognized for the sacrifices that they have made.

Veterans of Foreign Wars dates back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the Philippine Insurrection in 1899-1902, got together and founded local organizations that secured their rights and benefits that they earned as a result of their service. Following these conflicts, many veterans returned home wounded or sick. At that time, there was no medical car or veterans’ pensions for them, meaning that they had to care and provide for themselves.

As a result, veterans would band together and forming organizations that ultimately became known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. The first chapters were located in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania; quickly growing to a membership today of over 1.6 million members. Since its creation, Veterans of Foreign Wars has played a pivotal role in establishing the Veterans Administration, development of the national cemetery system, fighting for the compensation of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans who have been diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, the Veterans of Foreign Wars achieved a major victory for all veterans, by winning a long-fought battle with the passing of the GI Bill for the 21st century. This bill expanded the educational benefits to active duty service members, members of the guard and reserves who were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars has been instrumental in helping to fund the building of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service memorials. In addition, in 2005 the Veterans of Foreign Wars contributed to the building of the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in 2010. In 2015, they became the first supporters of the National Desert Storm War Memorial which will be built in Washington D.C. Aside from these accomplishments, Veterans of Foreign Wars has programs and services that work to support veterans, service members and their families.

Veterans of Foreign Wars also does a lot to help individual veterans and their families by offering a wide range of assistance programs. These programs are designed to help veterans of every generation, by providing free, professional assistance filing for VA claims, scholarships and more. No other organization does more for veterans than the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

VA Claims & Separation Benefits

When transitioning out of the military, there are many frustrations that can arise, especially when filing claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, it is a process that veterans and service members should not attempt to navigate alone. Due to the Veterans of Foreign Wars being comprised of the largest organization of combat veterans, they know how complex this process can be. Therefore, they have established the National Veterans Service (NVS), to help all veterans, service members and their families navigate this process.

The NVS has a nationwide network of VA accredited service officers and pre-discharge representatives who are expertly trained in dealing with the VA.  In fact, the VA reports that those who are represented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars have recouped $8.3 billion in earned benefits, with $1.4 billion in 2018 alone. A service officer from the Veterans of Foreign Wars can help veterans when filing for disability compensation, rehabilitation and education programs, pension and death benefits, employment and training programs.

Financial Grants

When serving in the armed forces, there are often times unforeseen challenges that veterans, service members and their families face. During this time, the Veterans of Foreign Wars believe that financial difficulties should not be one that veterans, service members or their families should have to face. This was the idea that started the Unmet Needs program, as part of Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Unmet Needs is designed to help America’s military families who encounter unexpected financial difficulties as a result of a deployment, or other military-related activity or injury. When needed, grants can be provided up to $1,500.00 to aid and assist with basic life needs, no repayment is required. To make a difficult situation even easier to bear, Unmet Needs will pay creditors directly with the grant money.

Student Veteran Support

There are many benefits available to veterans that they have earned and deserve to help them further their education. The Veterans of Foreign Wars has teamed up with Student Veterans of America to help provide assistance to veterans to gain access to their educational benefits. Working together, these two organizations are able to help veterans and service members use their GI Bill and other education benefits to help pay for their education without accruing massive amounts of student loan debt.

Mental Wellness Campaign

A shocking statistic illustrates, that 20 veterans commit suicide every single day. Veterans of Foreign Wars is committed to fighting that statistic by changing the narrative and negative stigma that surrounds mental health. In order to do this, Veterans of Foreign Wars has teamed up with other national organizations, such as, Give an Hour, The Campaign to Change Direction, One Mind, PatientsLikeMe, and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Together, these organizations are fighting to provide resources for mental health, and provide intervention for those veterans who have been affected by invisible injuries and emotional stress as a result of their military service.

If you would like to support and make a donation to Veterans of Foreign Wars, you can make a donation at https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/, where all funds are distributed to give back to America’s veterans.

Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial Fund

Located in Washington D.C., the Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial beautifully depicts the strength and vulnerability, loss and renewal of disabled veterans. Those who visit the memorial are able to learn about the lessons of courage, sacrifice, tenacity, loyalty and honor exhibited by those veterans who are disabled. The memorial is dedicated to both living and deceased veterans who serve as a reminder of the cost of freedom and human conflict. This beautiful moment, brings attention to those veterans who have sacrificed and live with a constant reminder of their service to our great nation. Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial Fund accepts donations online or via mail to help disabled veterans across the nation.

How You Can Help

There is a need to help veterans across the country who have given so much and sacrificed so that we may continue to live in a free country. Thanks to organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled Veterans Charitable Service Trust and others, veterans are able to have access to resources that help them transition to civilian life and cope with the effects of conflict.

It is important to remember that while a lot of these organizations get attention due to the fact that they help veterans who suffer from mental illness or physical disabilities as a result of their military service, this does not represent veterans as a whole. There are many veterans who are the lucky ones, returning home with no major side-effects, yet still benefit from these organizations and the programs that they offer.

Monetary donations make it possible for these organizations to continue to provide services and resources to veterans and service members. If you would like to donate, you can make a donation at https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/ and help to make a difference by giving back to the veterans who serve and sacrifice to protect our freedoms. All donations made via A Good Cause will go directly to charities and organizations whose mission it is to support the physical and psychological rehabilitation of veterans and their families.

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veteran

https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs

http://www.vfw.org/

https://avdlm.org/

Why Give Service

It’s seven A.M. and I have already retrieved my son from the neighbor’s yard. They woke up to find him staring in their back window with a toy sword shoved down the back of his shirt in the hopes that one of their kids would come out and play.

Just as I get the four-year-old back to the house I see my two-year-old’s tongue pressed against the glass of the sliding back door.

“Buddy don’t lick the window,” I say, mentally adding another strange instruction to my list of things I never thought I’d say.

Then, I notice the smell of chili powder and… curry? It’s coming from the kitchen. With the two-year-old safely removed from the horrors of my sliding glass door, which ironically actually looks cleaner than it did before, I hurry to find our six-year-old with every spice imaginable pulled from the cupboard and red puffs rising from the bowl she grips in the crook of her little arm, “Look Mommy! I decided to make taco seasoning for Poppy! Do you think he’ll like it?” 

Before I can answer, she’s licked her finger, thrust it into the mixture and declared, “It needs more salt. Will you taste it?”

A strangled sound comes from my mouth, and based on my daughter’s face, I can tell she’s not sure whether I’m going to laugh or cry. I’m not sure either.

Welcome to my life. If I could sum it up in one word, that would probably be, “Messy”.

agoodcause - volunteer

I know I’m not the only one, just as you think you’re about to have time to do more, to volunteer, to spend time getting to know the community, life changes, things come up, it gets hard. I was once asked by someone about a service my church offers, he said, “I always hear people say they love doing it, but they can’t seem to find the time. If it’s really that great, why is it so hard to get out and do it?”

It’s tempting to say because I’m too busy chasing my son out of the neighbor’s yard to leave the house, let alone do service. Or, if I have some extra cash, I’m getting a babysitter! 

And I doubt anyone would judge me if I did say that, but the truth is that the very reasons we have trouble leaving the house to volunteer or donate are the very reasons why we need to. 

I’m reminded of a time a neighbor was sick and in need of some meals. At the time, we only had one vehicle and one child. I made dinner, packed my daughter into the stroller, and headed out to do some service. Five years later, I don’t remember the crazy details of that day, but I do remember how I felt when I left home for a moment and thought about someone else’s needs instead of my own. I remember thinking how much easier it was than I had expected, and I remember the joy on my neighbor’s face as she played with my daughter. The entire experience wasn’t an interruption to my day, it was a break. 

I’m not advocating putting so much pressure on ourselves that we break from the burden of it all, but I’ve learned from experience that when we give where we can, our own trials seem lighter, and we can step back just enough to push the strangled laugh-cry into genuine mirth. Life isn’t going to get any less crazy, but by giving of ourselves the crazy is put into perspective, and it turns out, a little crazy can be a lot of fun.

Author:  Amber Mae

The Law of Abundance: A Real Path to Successful Living

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” -Anne Frank

Reaping, sowing, giving, receiving, whatever you want to call it, there is a law irrevocably decreed by God, the Universe, Karma, or fate, that the good (and the bad) that you put out into the world will have some kind of impact on you, the people around you, and the people around them, and those around them and those around them. Until that action ripples into eternity. It’s like the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but instead of getting to Kevin Bacon we get to a better world. (But it’s always a better world with Kevin Bacon in it, or even bacon for that matter.) Then that action will come back to you to bless your life in some way. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll be blessed with more bacon or Kevin Bacon or both! This act of giving and receiving is simply called the law of abundance.   

Of course, when we think of abundance we usually think of money or wealth. But abundance or the law of abundance isn’t just about money. If you “google” the law of abundance you will find a great deal of information on abundance and even some information on how to gain an abundance of wealth. But that’s not what the law is about, or the law isn’t just about money. It’s about abundance in anything–clothes, talents, kindness, food. Chances are if you have donated something to GoodWill or a thrift store, or donate your time to helping someone in need you’ve practiced the law of abundance. If even in a small way. The Law of Abundance is about having a plethora of something and sharing your abundance with your neighbor, your friend, or your loved one and then that good comes back to you. 

Giving is an interesting concept because most logically we would think that by giving we would have less because we are giving what we have away. But interestingly, research shows that by giving we actually have more. This is the law of abundance. Any mathematician worth his salt would probably tell you that it doesn’t make sense, the math isn’t there. One minus one is always zero. But for some reason when it comes to the law of abundance and giving, one minus one equals two or three or four. It is actually a proven theory not just a theory. 

Arthur C. Brooks is an American musician, social scientist, and a columnist for The New York Times. He is also (at the time this article was written) president of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr Brooks gave a speech in February of 2009 at Brigham Young University called “Why Giving Matters” where he discussed the actual science behind giving and the power and gift of giving. He, along with his colleagues at Harvard University collected data from 30,000 American families from all over the nation. What he found was that if you take two families that are similar–same race, same religion, same town, same number of kids, same level of education, everything is the same–except one family gives more to charity than the other family, “the giving family will earn on average $375 more in income than the non giving family.” Which is statistically attributable to their charitable contribution. As a social scientist, Mr Brooks didn’t believe the data. How can giving actually make you richer? So he did what we all would probably do, he recalculated and checked the numbers again. “In psychology this is what we call cognitive dissonance–two competing ideas in conflict with each other. On the one hand I had a theory that I’d always worked under. On the other hand I had data that completely contradicted the theory. So I did what college professors always do in this case: I got rid of the data.” Like most logical people, he looked at the data and thought; how is it possible that giving actually makes you richer? Mr Brooks checked the data again, “I got new software. I looked for new data. I re-crunched the numbers. I kept coming up with the same thing.” Even after the numbers kept coming up the same, Brooks didn’t believe it and ran the numbers again. This time using something other than money. “I ran the numbers again, and I looked at volunteering. I found the same thing: People who volunteer do better financially. I ran the numbers on blood contributions and blood donations. Think about that — giving blood. You’re not going to get richer if you give blood, are you? Well, yes, you are.” Whether by blood, donations, or volunteer time, giving makes us richer.

But not only does giving make us richer in our finances it also makes us richer in something other than money. We become rich in a currency that really matters most–happiness. After crunching the numbers over and over again, and going over the data, Brooks still had a hard time believing the connection. So he went to a trusted friend. He told his friend that he kept getting the same “crazy result” and it was almost like “the hand of God or something on the economy, and I can’t believe it’s true.” Although Brooks was a devout Roman Catholic, he still wanted the hard evidence. His friend, who specializes in the psychology of charitable giving, says this; “We haven’t just been talking about money. You economists — you worry about money all the time, and money is boring. We worry about something that people really care about – the currency by which we really spend our days – and that’s happiness. We’ve known for 30 years that people who give get happier as a result.” So this is not just some crackpot theory, there is a science behind it. Giving is important and can have a huge impact on your own happiness and your financial, emotional, and physical success. 

Giving is often times referred to as a gift or the gift of giving. We have all heard the old adage that it’s better to give than to receive and I believe that’s the blessing of the law of abundance at work. Giving is a gift and there are many people who are actually born with that gift but it’s also a gift that we can all obtain. Trisha Leimer, president of Their Story is Our Story: Giving Voice to Refugees; a nonprofit organization devoted to telling the stories of refugees, shares an experience she had while working with the refugees in Germany. She tells a story about a man who is an Iraq citizen who spent time working with the US government in Iraq. However, when the US Army left Iraq his life was in danger. Therefore, he fled to Germany for refuge and ended up with nothing. Leimer says this about her encounter with the kind Iraq citizen, 

“One afternoon at the camp, he sat down to color a mandala. While he colored, a young girl in the camp was stealing my markers and taking them to her tent. I sat across from him and pulled the girl up close. I explained to her that the markers were mine and that I would let her use them if she would just give them back when she was finished. I told her that I didn’t have enough money to keep buying new ones. When he heard that, my Iraqi friend across the table perked up. ‘Do you need money? I can give you money!’ he said sincerely. 

I sent the girl off to another table with my markers in her fist, knowing full well they wouldn’t return to me. Then I turned to him and assured him I had plenty of money and that I was just trying to convince her to return the pens. He smiled knowingly and returned to his mandala. 

Over the next few hours, he watched me and the other volunteers play with the children and pass out multiple pairs of donated eyeglasses to the adults. When the afternoon was over, my friend quietly helped clean up the mess of papers, markers without lids, spilled water, and stomped on pretzels. After all was in order, he pulled me aside. With a light in his eyes, he pressed two five-euro bills into my hand. “I can’t take your money,” I resisted. He calmly stretched out his hand with the bills and very solemnly, almost pleadingly, uttered these indisputable words: “This is my gift to you.”

With tears in my eyes, I accepted the money. “I will not use this money for me, ”I said with conviction. “This will go toward helping someone else.”  

I walked away from that scene feeling like I had been entrusted with much more than this man’s meager wealth. I had been entrusted with the opportunity to allow him to be the giver for the first time in a very long time. When I accepted his money, I allowed him his dignity. Among all the giving done that day in the camp, my friend gave the most by far.” 

    Even though Leimer’s army friend gave only the small amount that he had, he gave the most that day because he gave all he had. I’m sure he didn’t have a lot to give and maybe sometimes we don’t either. But giving as much as we can, it can help us even more than we know. Sometimes it might be our last dollar, or last minute, or last day. Whatever it is, sometimes giving our all can actually give us all that we need. If only more people gave like Leimer’s friend, if only we gave all that we had for our neighbor, friend or loved one. Imagine the world that we could create! 

Imagine many people standing in a circle, then imagine that all those people gave something to the person standing to the left of them. They would all pass something along until everyone in the circle had something. What a blessing that would be. If every person in the world practiced the law of abundance or even if just half of the people in the world practiced the law of abundance, most, if not all of the sorrow and pain and needs of those struggling would be met and exceeded. We would all be taken care of because we all take care and give to those around us. 

However, there is one imperative facet of this law of abundance that I don’t think gets mentioned enough. One part that, if forgotten, can break down the whole system of giving. Because, while giving is important, it’s not the value of the gift that’s given. It’s like that old saying, “it’s the thought that counts.” Well, the true meaning of that saying is sometimes lost on all of us. But it really is the thought that counts. It doesn’t mean that the gift is lame or unwanted and we should just accept it because it was the thought that counted. What I see in that saying is that when we give, we give because we want to give and therein lies the true beauty of giving and the law of abundance. The whole gift of giving is lost if it’s something we don’t want to do. When we’re forced to do something or give something, we lose all respect for it and thereby the purpose of it is lost. The purpose of giving is, as Mr Brooks’ friend said, happiness. Who would be happy if we were forced to give? 

The other important facet of giving, and this one seems a little obvious but I feel the need to share it anyway, we need to be the ones giving and taking care of those in need. It has to be us doing it, it’s a DIY (do it yourself) project for your soul. Mr Brooks in his address covers this very thing, he states, “You will hear in the coming days and weeks and months that if our country were doing what it should be doing for people in need, then we wouldn’t need private giving, that the government would be taking care of people who need it, and that we would not need you to step in to provide needs. Having looked at the data, I am here to tell you today that the day the government takes over for you in your private charity is the day we get poorer, unhappier, and unhealthier. The process starts right now on the day the government crowds us out. We must demand to take our place as givers and to support our communities of need and people who need the services that we can provide.” Giving is not something we can outsource to someone else, it is our responsibility. That’s the only way this works. If giving is so good for you spiritually, physically, and even fiscally, I’m not sure why anyone would want to delegate their responsibility and blessing of giving. 

In conclusion, I would like to issue a challenge to you, the reader. To you, dear reader, I say, go and practice the law of abundance. Practice it for as long as you can commit to at first– whether that’s a day, a week, two weeks, a month. However long you need to commit it, commit to it. Then look around your life, find your abundance and share it. Pick a person–your neighbor, your brother, your friend. Whomever you think needs it the most. Find a need and fill it. 

Here are five simple things you can start with now to practice the law of abundance: 

  1. Go through your closet and donate unused clothes 
  2. Donate 5% more of your paycheck to your charitable organization
  3. Give 10 minutes of your listening ear to a friend 
  4. Compliment everyone you meet today 
  5. Write a note, text, email, or call a loved one and tell them how much you care

    Start with these small tasks and then challenge yourself again. Try doing something every day, or try doing one thing a week. Whatever you do–challenge yourself. Make it a goal to do at least one of these things this week. Try one of these small tasks or do something even simpler like smile at everyone you pass on your path today. Or do something bigger! Whatever it is, as Nike would say, just do it. I dare you. I promise that before you know it you will begin to see a change in the world around you. But most importantly, you’ll begin to see a change in yourself. For the better. Now, that’s even better than bacon! 

Author: Briana Pugh

Sources: 

https://www.lds.org/refugees/stories/giving-goes-both-ways?lang=eng

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/arthur-c-brooks_giving-matters-2/ 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_C._Brooks

How can I be a Philanthropist?

 “You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change.” 

–Tim Cook

One of the biggest components of implementing a philanthropy lifestyle is to recognize that life is not all about you; there is a bigger picture out there, more people and things that are much bigger than you are as an individual. To be a philanthropist means that you willingly give of your time, talents, and resources for the betterment of others. In fact, to be a philanthropist doesn’t come with stringent requirements that you are to adhere to, such as having copious amounts of money at your disposal, fame or even a multi-million-dollar empire. Every single person, who has the desire to make a difference and make the world and their community a better place has the ability and power to be a philanthropist in their own way. 

Being a philanthropist in our everyday lives is easier than you might initially realize. I’d wager that every single person, whether consciously or subconsciously has made the decision to be a philanthropist at one time or another. Think back on all the times you’ve been standing in the checkout line and asked if you would like to round your purchase up to the next whole dollar, or the time that you dropped a couple of bucks or spare pocket change into the Salvation Army’s collection cup, or the time that you selected an ornament off the Angel tree around Christmas. All of these small, seemingly insignificant actions on your part, were all acts of kindness, generosity, to promote the greater good of others—the definition of a philanthropist. 

Whether you recognize it or not, chances are you’ve already made steps towards being a philanthropist, which illustrates that every single person has the ability and the power within themselves to make a difference, with or without monetary donations. It starts with small, seemingly insignificant choices that add up to big changes over time. It is the extra spare change that rounds your purchase up to a whole dollar, that contributes to making a difference. It’s the spare pocket change, that means you forgo your morning cup of coffee to donate to a cause that is striving to make the world a better place. It is the child whose life you are having a positive impact on when you select their ornament off the Angel Tree, bringing the spirit of Christmas into their young life; letting them know there is good in the world. Because all of these small actions we make on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, our impact and the difference we make is unmeasurable. David Rockefeller once said: “Philanthropy is involved with basic innovations that transform society.”. When everyone takes these same small steps and implements them into their daily life, every single person is being a philanthropist, whether they realize it or not. 

Reasons to Be a Philanthropist

There are countless reasons why people feel the desire to implement philanthropy into their own life. It could be, because they have personally benefited from someone else’s generosity, therefore, seeing someone else in need tugs at their heart strings. A good example of this would be, when you hear about someone who has a need that you can fulfill. In my own life, there was a period of time when my husband was away for work and I was dealing with some health issues, at the same time, my yard quickly got out of control. Before I could arrange for a landscape company to come and remedy the situation, I had multiple neighbors who came over and mowed my yard, sprayed weeds and performed other generous acts for me that I was unable to take care on my own. For others, they feel as though they have been richly blessed, they too must use what they have been given to bless and benefit others lives. To be considered richly blessed, doesn’t mean that you are necessarily blessed with money, it could be that you are blessed with patience, that allows for you to sit and visit with dementia patients, blessed with a caring heart that moves you to volunteer at a soup kitchen; there are a multitude of ways in which you can be richly blessed that allows for you to help others without relying on money to do so. Aside from feeling as though you need to pay it forward there are reasons why people choose to implement the idea of philanthropy into their life. These reasons can include improving your community, your belief system, making a difference and many other things. Whatever, your personal reasons for wanting to be a philanthropist I would recommend you pursue it and allow it to be fueled by your passion for wanting to help others.  

Giving Back/Paying It Forward 

Whether or not you have personally fallen on hard times, chances are you know someone who has. You’ve seen how friends, family and even complete strangers rally together to provide assistance, financial relief, meals or anything else that people or families may stand in need of. Often times these instances are brought to our attention via social media, text from a close family member or friend, or other media sources. Regardless of where we learn of a need, it is natural for many to want to pitch in, provide help and give back where possible. Some people have a desire to provide support out of the kindness of their hearts, as a means of paying it forward for help they received in their own life, as a way to give back to others hoping that someday those whom they help will continue the trend to pay it forward; or with the hope that they will be blessed for helping others. 

A perfect example of this would be an eighty-eight-year-old woman who made sure that she smiled and waved to all the school children that would pass her home on their way to and from school for the past twelve years. Over the years, many students would return her wave and continue on their way. When students learned that the woman would be moving out of her home into an assisted living, nearly four-hundred children showed up on her front law, most came with flowers and cards to express their gratitude to her for the kindness that she showed them over the years through her simple, yet caring gesture of waving as they passed her home.

Improving Your Community 

Generally speaking, when you perform an act of generosity and kindness towards another person or group, you are doing so as a means to make a positive change or impact. Sometimes, these actions impact an entire community and not a single person. Prime examples of this includes, feeding the homeless, starting a community garden, volunteering at a local food pantry, or donating clothing and toiletries to a local shelter. All of these actions work to improve your community, by bringing neighbors and citizens together to promote the welfare and greater good of those you live around. You too will notice that your community has an increased sense of community and friendship towards one another. 

Belief System

For a lot of people, their belief system plays a huge factor in a lot of the things that they do in their daily lives. This can be the belief in a Higher Power that expects them to serve their fellow men, it can be the belief in what goes around comes around, or it can be a belief that you can make a difference. Regardless of what your belief system is, or what motivates you, many people claim that it is their belief system that motivated them to perform an act of kindness, generosity or philanthropy. Most are motivated to do these various things because they are commanded to do good, spread joy, lift one another’s burdens, and overall be a good person. 

Making a Difference   

Another big reason why people adopt and look for opportunities to be a philanthropist, is so they can make a difference in their community, the lives of others, and even the world. Simple acts such as, donating spare change to someone begging on the street corners, or participating in service or charitable projects in your community. Though they may seem like small, insignificant actions on your part, when combined with the efforts of others over a period of time, change begins to happen. It is a good reminder not only to yourself but to those in need, that there is still good in the world. You can be a part of that change, representing the good through implementing philanthropist style actions and choices into your daily life. 

A good example of seeing a need, taking initiative and making a difference would be the example of Jennifer Maddox, who was featured on the Today Show and womansday.com. Maddox, a Chicago native who was also a single mom of two young boys, was working as a police officer, who became a security guard at one of Chicago’s sprawling housing projects as a means to bring in more income. While working as a security guard, Maddox realized that many of the children living in the projects would get into trouble simply because they were bored. Most children did not have access to a safe place to play and to be kids. After a while, Maddox was able to provide after-school activities for the children when she wasn’t working. In 2011, she was able to officially establish the nonprofit organization Future Ties, which provides after-school, summer and mentorship for children aged eighteen and under. As a result of her efforts, crime has decreased, and many children who benefited from her efforts have returned to volunteer and help mentor other young children growing up in the projects.  

Finding Satisfaction as a Philanthropist

Now that we know why people decide to engage in philanthropy actions, what is it about philanthropy that entices people to keep doing good? I’d argue that one of the biggest reasons why people have a hard time going back to their pre-philanthropy ways is that it is addicting. When you do a good deed for others, it becomes addicting as you feel good doing it. Perhaps part of the good feeling that comes along with it, is the idea of karma or “what goes around, comes around”. When you do a good deed for others, it is then put out into the universe and good deeds will find their way back to you. 

Real Life Philanthropist Examples

There are ample opportunities and ways in which you can help others and be a philanthropist in your own way. This makes finding real life examples that you can emulate in your life easy to find. These examples can range from your favorite celebrities, religious figures, professional athletes, people in your own community and neighborhood, along with family members or even complete strangers. When you seen an example of someone implementing a philanthropist lifestyle, and it resonates with you; use it as motivation to make changes in your own life. The most important thing to remember when looking for examples to emulate, is that there is no requirement saying you need copious amounts of money at your disposal to live a philanthropist lifestyle. 

Ronald McDonald House

While most of us have not had the experience of staying at or taking advantage of the resources provided at the Ronald McDonald House.  The Ronald McDonald House not only provides services and goods to those who need a place to stay, but also provides an opportunity for those in the community to serve and provide service for those who are staying at the Ronald McDonald House. 

The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to provide a way for families to stay close to their critically ill or injured child, while they receive treatments in a hospital setting. When a child is injured or ill, receiving help and treatment is paramount to a family, which is where the Ronald McDonald House can help. They provide a place for parents and family to stay, where they are close to the hospital without adding to the worry of where they are going to stay, or if they can afford to find a place to stay. 

In addition, to providing a place for families to stay at little to no cost, the Ronald McDonald Houses rely on volunteers to provide families with home-cooked meals, a listening ear, nurturing or simply just by being there. This allows for families to focus on their child, without worrying about where their next meal is going to come from. Anyone can donate their time, resources or talents to a local Ronald McDonald House in your own community. You can volunteer to go in and make a home cooked meal, spend time talking to families and being a listening ear. There are countless ways in which you can be a philanthropist for those who are going through a difficult time. 

Rotary International

Rotary International is a phenomenal organization that is dedicated to improving their communities and the world. The stated purpose of Rotary International is “to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world.”. This is achieved through the efforts of average, everyday people who work together to make changes that impact the biggest majority. Rotary International has worked tirelessly through the help of dedicated members to eradicate the world from polio, by bringing the polio vaccine to remote parts of the globe. 

Not only do they work on a large, global scale, each local chapter works hard to bring change and be a philanthropist in their own communities. Frequently local chapters organize various service projects that enable them to improve their community. This is accomplished through cleaning up local roadways, delivering dictionaries to local school children, or building covered bus stops. There are countless ways in which members of Rotary International perform acts of philanthropy around their communities, states and the world. All it takes is a desire to make a change and everyone can be a philanthropist. 

Neighborhoods and Communities 

aGoodCause - Charity Donations Fundraising Nonprofit Volunteer Concept

We are all surrounded by neighbors, or live in communities that are known to rally together to support and lend a hand when one of our own is in need. Sometimes this takes on the form of a charity auction, fundraising, bake sales, or other monetary donations. Sometimes, people in our communities and neighborhoods need help, but not monetary help. This is the perfect opportunity for people to practice philanthropy by helping in other ways. Every time a meal is taken into a family that had a new baby, a family member has been in the hospital or experienced a death in the family. Other examples include helping a family to pack up their belongings preparing for a move, helping to clean the home of a family who has fallen on hard times or unable to do so themselves, helping with yard work for the elderly in your community, and paying for someone else’s meal at a restaurant or drive thru. 

Recently, there was a family from my hometown who unexpectedly lost their father in a tragic accident. The accident occurred a couple of weeks before his youngest daughter’s wedding. Amidst the tragedy, countless neighbors and community members pitched in to provide meals to the family, time and talents were shared in helping with the final wedding preparations, help with yard work and so much more. The family didn’t ask for help, but those around them saw a need and took the initiative to help and ease their burden during a difficult time. 

Friends and Acquaintances 

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend, where he was presented with an opportunity to be a philanthropist. He was in the process of quitting his job and moving cross country to go to school. A few days prior to his upcoming move, it was brought to his attention that a coworker of his was struggling financially. The coworker had made decisions in his life that resulted in him having to pay extensive fines, legal fees and along with other financial repercussions as a result of his choices. When my friend initially heard about this situation, he learned that other coworkers were trying to gather donations to help their fellow co-worker out, ensure that he was still able to buy food and cover other necessary expenses. Initially, my friend and others were hesitant to donate any money, feeling as though the situation was the consequence and price that the man had to pay as a result of his careless actions and choices. After taking a couple of days to think about the situation, my friend ended up giving the man some money to help tide him over. The man offered to pay it back out of his next paycheck, as he knew my friend was soon going to be out of work and had extensive moving cost associated with his upcoming move. My friend, refused to be paid back as he would be gone before the next payday; he simply asked that instead of repaying him, the man pay it forward and help someone else in need. Even though he didn’t have to, and wasn’t necessarily in a position to do so, my friend saw that the other man’s needs outweighed his own; his small monetary donation was done for the betterment of someone else, something bigger than himself. 

How Can I Be a Philanthropist? 

Every single person, regardless of wealth, social status, occupation, race, gender or location has the ability to be a philanthropist in their own way. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, philanthropist is defined as “one who makes an active effort to promote human welfare”. That leaves the ways and possibilities in which you can be a philanthropist wide open. All it takes is for you to see or hear of a need and to do something about it. 

It also means that you can be a philanthropist by just being a good person, and spreading joy and kindness to those around you. A simple act of dropping spare change into a homeless person’s cup, can make a world of difference for them. Your actions of being a philanthropist don’t have to be some big, outlandish, earth shattering act; all it needs is to come from your heart and be meaningful. Don’t limit the possibilities of being a philanthropist be capped because of the misconception that the definition of philanthropist includes wealth and money, when in fact every definition I’ve ever found doesn’t mention money as a requirement to define yourself as a philanthropist. 

If you want to start living a philanthropist lifestyle but aren’t sure where to start, start small. Start by dropping spare change into charity collection cans at various stores and restaurants around your community, drop off a bag of food to your local food pantry, offer to pay for someone’s meal, bake cookies for the new neighbors that moved in down the road from you. The possibilities for how you can be a philanthropist are only limited by your imagination and your willingness to do something for someone else. Even a simple act such as giving someone a hug, can have a huge impact on their day, not to mention you generally feel better for it as well. At the grocery store, offer to return someone’s cart for them, hold the door open for someone, all these small actions that require very little effort on your part all add up to make a difference. No act of kindness is too small, no generous deed goes unnoticed. 

Just imagine how much better off our world would be, if we all acted out of kindness and performed seemingly small, insignificant acts of philanthropy. There would be more smiles, more laughter, more joy. It is possible, all it takes is small actions to implement change for the better. In the infamous words of world-renowned philanthropist Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”. Start today, by doing small philanthropy type actions that you can build on over time, building a legacy of thoughtful and caring actions that have a positive impact on those around you. 

Author:  Ashley Christensen

 Sources: 

https://www.groco.com/article/why_you_should_become_a_philanthropist.aspx

https://www.rmhc.org/volunteer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotary_International

https://www.womansday.com/life/inspirational-stories/a19724992/jennifer-maddox-future-ties/

Alleviating World Hunger

When’s the last time that you skipped a meal because you were “too busy”, or “nothing sounded good” or you simply “weren’t hungry”? Having food available to us at any given time—day or night, is a luxury that we often take for granted without really thinking about it. We’re not afraid to spend large portions of our paycheck at the grocery store, fast food drive-through or dinner out with friends, where leftovers and extra food ultimately find their way into the trash can, to be whisked off to the local landfill. Once our extra, rotten food is thrown out, we might feel a tiny bit of guilt while tossing food, only because it cost us money to purchase that food and we are wasting it; but once it’s in the garbage we tend to forget about our guilt, just to repeat the cycle the following week.

Now imagine living in a world, where you do not know when you will get the chance to eat again, or where your food is going to come from. Imagine that when you do eat, it is only a small amount of food, that doesn’t even begin to satisfy your hunger, rather teasing you that your hunger will be satisfied, only to be disappointed. Imagine what little food you do get might be old, spoiled, or rotten, but you eat it anyways as your only other option is to continue to go without food and nourishment. Unfortunately, for a whopping 795 million people in the world (that is approximately one out of every nine) this imaginary world is their reality according to 2017 statics.

Food is an essential element to human life. It not only provides vital nourishment that is needed, it also fuels the body and provides a livelihood that can lift people out of poverty and bring communities together. When there is a lack of food for the population, malnourishment ensues along with increased poverty rates and crime. Think about how many times growing up your parents told you to “think of the starving kids in Africa” as a method of persuasion to get you to eat your food; or think about every time you have to throw food out that has gone bad before you had a chance to eat it. Both of these represent that vast amount of food that is thrown away and goes to waste. In fact, a staggering one-third of all food produced goes to waste.

World hunger is something that many of us have heard of, but have a hard time fully comprehending. Often times we don’t give a lot of thought to world hunger, because it doesn’t have an effect on our day to day lives. Before you can address a problem and work to alleviate it, it is important to know what exactly world hunger is, how many people are affected, where are the majority of people who suffer from hunger located, what causes world hunger and what is currently being done to combat this worldwide epidemic.

Facts about World Hunger

For many of us, we know that world hunger affects a large group of people, but do you know exactly how many? There are many facts surrounding world hunger, that many people don’t know or don’t recognize as being a contributing factor. One of the best ways to be able to combat world hunger, is to know all the facts.

A report published in September of 2018 stated that there are 821 million people worldwide who are chronically undernourished. Out of the 821 million, ninety-eight percent live in developing countries around the world—Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Knowing where the majority of those suffering from hunger live, can help in targeting efforts to alleviate the lack of food.

With so many people around the globe suffering from hunger, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the answer to solving world hunger is to simply grow and produce enough food to feed the world population. Interestingly enough, the world already produces enough food to feed the entire population. Even though there is enough food produced, many still go without because they are not able to grow and produce their own or they lack sufficient funds to purchase food for themselves.

Hunger also claims the lives of nearly one in every fifteen children living in developing countries prior to the age of five. In 2010 alone, nearly 7.6 million children across the globe lost their lives, with over half being attributed to poor nutrition.  Furthermore, when an undernourished woman becomes pregnant, the baby is often born undernourished as well. Every year, nearly seventeen-million children are born undernourished as a result of the mother’s lack of adequate nutrition before and during pregnancy. When a woman is undernourished as a result of a lack of food, she is often deficient in basic nutrients, such as iron, which results in nearly 315,000 dying during childbirth from hemorrhaging every year.

Causes of World Hunger

According to the World Food Programme, there are a few predominant reasons why hunger persists throughout the world, and oftentimes, these reasons are interconnected with each other. These reasons include: being trapped in poverty, lack of infrastructure, climate and weather, war, economy, and various other reasons that all contribute to the worldwide epidemic. Many of the reasons that are considered to contribute to world hunger are often complex and vary widely but they are still interconnected.

Trapped in Poverty

Poverty is considered to be the leading cause for hunger worldwide. For many who are living in poverty, they are living in a trap that provides little to no way for them to improve their lives. Unfortunately, as a result, many that are living a life of extreme poverty also live in a world of constant hunger. Many who live in poverty are unable to purchase nutritious, healthy food for themselves or their families. Without proper nutrition, the human body begins to weaken, physically and mentally. This in turn results in individuals being unable to work for a livable wage, preventing them from being able to escape the grasp of poverty and starvation.

According to Bread for the World the largest group of people who suffer from hunger and live in extreme poverty tend to be smallholder farmers. The definition for “extreme poverty” means that they have an income of less than $1.25 per day. Most of these farmers live in developing countries and do not have adequate land to grow enough food for themselves to eat year-round. What little food they are able to produce, doesn’t bring in enough of an income to allow for them to be able to purchase the necessary food they need from other farmers once they run out of their own supply.

Lack of proper nourishment has a ripple effect, children who are malnourished tend to be stunted in their growth, resulting in adults whose average income is significantly lower than their counterparts. Without adequate income, many of those living in poverty are in developing countries and are unable to purchase seeds to plant crops that would feed their families. For the rare few that are able to obtain seeds, many do not have the land or the water or knowledge to grow and harvest their seeds, ultimately keeping them trapped in poverty.

Lack of Infrastructure

In underdeveloped countries, a lack of infrastructure such as roads, warehouses and irrigation systems all contribute to a hunger epidemic. Due to the lack of these key features, communities are left facing high transportation cost, lack of storage facilities and unreliable water supply. With the lack of ability to safely and affordably transport food, store food or even grow food, many people are denied the access to food which is vital to their survival.

A lack of adequate infrastructure in developing countries can be attributed to the challenges that many farmers face when trying to grow their own crops. Because there is a lack of a water supply, in areas of countries where hunger is prevalent, many women and girls spend countless hours walking great distances to gather what water they can. This results in women not being able to contribute to other productive activities and girls are not able to attend school. In some countries that are developing, there are areas where there is a great shortage of food, due to the lack of adequate infrastructure to get food and supplies to the people, whereas, in other parts of the country there is an abundance of food because they have the ability to transport and grow enough food to feed those living in close proximity.

Climate and Weather

With the climate changing all across the world, there appears to be an abundance of natural disasters, including floods and tropical storms and drought. With the increased number of natural disasters, the consequences can be detrimental to those living in underdeveloped countries, who already experience a shortage of food. Natural disasters are known to wipe out crops, crop failure, and livestock losses, eliminating what food there possibly was available. Climate change is responsible for damaging food production and water security in significant ways all across the globe. How successfully the world responds to climate change will play a huge factor is being able to combat and ultimately eradicate world hunger.  It is projected that in order to keep up with climate change and a growing world population, agricultural production will need to increase by at least seventy percent just to be able to keep up.

War

It should come as no surprise that war and displacement has far reaching effects all across the globe. Throughout history, food has been both the cause the overall effect of war. War disturbs farming and food production by destroying farms and crops; fighting also forces people to flee from their homes, as they are displaced and no longer able to provide for themselves or their families. During a war, it is also not all that uncommon for food to quickly become a weapon of sorts. Over the course of history, troops have used food to their advantage, by starving their enemy into submission by seizing food, destroying farms and killing off livestock. Other times, humanitarian food that has found its way into a war zone, can be confiscated by government officials and used to feed their troops rather than their citizens. Fields become mined and water sources are contaminated, resulting in land that is no longer usable for growing food, and water that cannot be consumed. During times of war and conflict, the poorest citizens of a nation, are generally the ones who feel the effects first and suffer the most, as resources are dedicated to a nation’s military members and leaders.  All of this contributes to the worldwide epidemic of world hunger.

Unstable Markets

The world’s economy plays a big role in world hunger. When the price of food rises, those who are poor or living in poverty are then unable to afford nutritious food, instead of consuming unhealthy food. For good health, it is important that everyone has access to nutritious, adequate food year-round. When food prices go up, food may temporarily be priced out of reach for some. When individuals and families are no longer able to purchase the necessary food due to increased prices from an unstable market, there can be lifelong consequences for small children. When nutritious food becomes too expensive for the poorer population to purchase, they often resort to cheaper, less-nutritious food, leading to an increased risk of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.

These are some of the biggest, most noticeable causes for world hunger, there are other, smaller reasons that contribute to this worldwide epidemic.

In developed countries, such as, the United States and other countries that are deemed to have a high-income the reasons for hunger are dramatically different. In most cases people in developed countries suffer from hunger as a result of a poor paying job, lack of jobs, or poor economic status.

What is Being Done to Combat World Hunger?

Because world hunger is affecting so many people around the globe, there are various groups and organizations that are working tirelessly to combat world hunger and bring food to those who are starving around the globe. Knowing the reasons why so many people are malnourished and starving helps to provide direction to alleviate the need for nutritional food.

Currently, organizations, such as Mercy Corps are working alongside communities that are most vulnerable to hunger by educating people, improving their communities and implementing plans for sustainability into the future.

Agriculture

Being able to grow and produce food to feed their families and make a living is an important step towards fighting world hunger. When farmers are able to get their resources that they need, they can then increase their food production, providing nutritious food to feed themselves, their family and sell to others, therefore, increasing their current income to be able to continue to provide food for their families when their supply runs low.

In Kenya, small farmers who were unable to compete with large scale farms, have been able to boost their production, while working on minimizing crop loss with the assistance of organizations such as USAID. This has been accomplished as they have been able to implement skills that they have gained through educational opportunities that are brought to them from humanitarian groups. Many farmers are able to sell their excess crops to the UN World Food Program that goes to help other communities around the world that are suffering from hunger and starvation.

Sustainability

It’s one thing to be able to take care of immediate food and hunger needs, it’s something entirely different when you are able to provide nutritious food for the foreseeable future. When individuals and communities are provided with the necessary resources to create plans that allow for them to learn the skills necessary to adequately manage their resources, they are then able to improve both their crop and livestock production. This allows for them to provide nourishment not only to satisfy their immediate need, but also into the future.

Different organizations are helping communities around the globe to develop stronger food systems that will allow for them to make food that is grown in their areas easier to access for everyone. This is accomplished through teaching individuals and communities better ways in which they can manage and utilize what resources they have available to them to improve their crop and livestock production.

Education

Education goes a long way in helping people to make improvements so that they can better care for their families. Many people who suffer from malnutrition and hunger, do not know or understand the importance of proper nutrition, sanitation or hygiene. Through education, people learn about the importance of good nutrition, sanitation and hygiene practices that allow for them to be able to consume a more diverse and nutritious diet.

Food for the Hungry believes it is making an impact now that will have far-reaching effects into the future. Through their organization, they have been able to provide life-changing resources, including clean water supply, medical aid, food, educational opportunities to those living in the harshest of conditions. In order to provide these resources and education to people across the globe, they work closely with local leaders to know how best to respond to the needs of the people living in the area.

Meeting Immediate Needs

In areas of the world, where hunger and malnutrition run rampant, humanitarian aid strives to bring life saving food and nutritional needs. This is achieved through actual food and food vouchers. In areas that are affected by a natural disaster, relief is rendered through food, food vouchers and cash that allows for individuals to purchase food for themselves and their families. Through cash, individuals are able to provide nourishment to their families while helping to rebuild their communities.   

Children’s Hunger Fund is an organization that works closely with different church groups around the globe to provide food, water and other basic necessities to those living in extreme poverty. This is accomplished by delivering food and other necessary supplies to those in need through local church leaders in various communities who are able to distribute supplies to those who stand in need the most.

Working with Local Governments

World hunger is not a new development that we are just learning about, but it has come back into focus in recent years. Following years of underinvestment for many of the wealthier countries around the world, including the United States have begun to reinvest into programs that are designed to help combat world hunger. Through combined efforts of world leaders, private companies, NGOs, universities and academic institutions, ending world hunger has become a top priority that many are striving for.

Since its peak in 2015, many of those who have been working together to fight and ultimately end world hunger have been able to make substantial strides in achieving their goal. Through the combined efforts of the United States in partnership with the above-mentioned groups, the Feed the Future Initiative, which is an anti-hunger response has had tremendous results. These results include lifting 9-million people out of poverty, 1.6-million households free from hunger and 1.8-million children properly nourished.

Feed the Children works closely with donors, experts, partners, leaders and communities to find those who are suffering the most and providing relief. It is the mission of Feed the Children to work with local and world leaders to use donations to eliminate starvation and hunger for starving children around the globe.

How You Can Help to Alleviate World Hunger?

The success of organizations such as Feed the Future Initiative show that ending world hunger is possible, but it is going to take everyone to achieve the ultimate end goal. Because alleviating world hunger is going to require extensive efforts, everyone has the ability to contribute to this great cause. There are different ways in which you can contribute and help to make a difference in the life of someone who is suffering from hunger and lack of food.

Donate and  help to alleviate hunger around the world - Agoodcause

Donate

This is probably the easiest way in which you can help to alleviate hunger around the world. You can start by donating food to your local food pantry, to help those in need in your own communities. If you are looking to help on a larger scale, consider donating monetarily to an organization that is committed to fighting and alleviating hunger across the globe. This can be done directly to the organization, or you can donate through A Good Cause, where all the money donated goes directly to various charities that are working tirelessly to provide nutritious food to those in need. These charities include Feeding America, Children’s Hunger Fund, Feed The Children and Food for the Hungry. When you make a donation through A Good Cause, you can make a one-time donation, or you can set up to make recurring donations to help those in need.

Fundraise

If you’d like to do more than make a monetary donation, consider creating your own fundraising campaign using A Good Cause’s crowdfunding platform, where you can invite friends and family members to also donate to alleviating hunger around the world. Through your campaign, you can help to bring awareness to others about the need for funds to help those who are unable to obtain food for themselves and their family members.

By working together, we can all make an impact on those around the world who don’t know when or where their next meal is going to be coming from. We can help to bring nutritious food to those who otherwise will be going without. Whether you can afford to make a monthly donation, or simply spread the word to others, we can all work together and alleviate hunger across the globe. Alleviating world hunger is a goal that we can all band together on, regardless of our race, political affiliation, or geographical location and make a huge difference in the world. Through our efforts we can turn the idea of not knowing when or where someone will eat again into a distant memory for all, as nutritious food will be available to everyone, all across the world.

To make a donation or establish recurring donations through A Good Cause, please visit: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/alleviate-hunger/

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources:

https://www.mercycorps.org/articles/what-were-doing-help-end-global-hunger

https://www.bread.org/what-causes-hunger

https://www.wfp.org/stories/what-causes-hunger

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-world-hunger

https://reliefweb.int/report/world/5-ways-usaid-helping-end-world-hunger

http://www.feedthechildren.org/about/

https://childrenshungerfund.org/about

https://www.feedingamerica.org/

What Brings the Greatest Joy?


“The source of all abundance is not outside you. It is part of who you are.”

—Eckhart Tolle

In a world obsessed with instant gratification, it is easy to get swept up in our own lives and forget about others. We tend to forget there are people out there who are not as fortunate as we are, down on their luck or who simply might need our assistance. Generally, during times of trials or tragedy we see our communities come together through various platforms, one of the most popularly used is the GoFundMe platform.  

Depending on the cause, the number of people who come together to donate can help determine the success of the campaign. When it is for a good cause, one that tugs at a large number or people’s heart strings, the number of those donating increases substantially. As one of the largest fundraising platforms on the market today, GoFundMe has raised a whopping $5 Billion since its launch in 2010.

So, how is it that GoFundMe has been able to help over 2 million campaigns raise so much money? The answer isn’t necessarily cut and dry…people donate to campaigns for a few different reasons. One of the most common is that people donate to campaigns where they know the person or people who the campaign is for personally.  Others donate to campaigns that tug at their heart strings and where they want to help make a difference in helping lighten another’s burden. However, others donate to campaigns where their friends or family know those whom the campaign is for and shared it with them. A large number of people also voluntarily donate to various causes due to the feelings of joy and abundance they experience as a result.

What Is Joy?

“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.”

–Khalil Gibran

Before we can answer the question “What brings the greatest joy?”, it is important to define and understand what “joy” is. There are numerous ways in which giving back and giving of ourselves blesses others and our own lives, but do these ways bring us joy?

To answer this, we must first know what “joy” means. According to dictionary.com, joy is defined as: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”. From my experience that is a good definition of joy, but I also believe there is more to joy than just a feeling of happiness. For me, I define “joy” as: “a sense of fulfillment, complete and utter happiness with an overflowing vessel of abundance”.

While each of us define “joy” differently, most of our definitions will surround a feeling similar to that of happiness. Knowing how you define “joy” in your own life, will allow you to determine and define what it is that brings you the greatest joy in your life.

For many, their families are their greatest joy. For others, they might find joy in their careers, hobbies, schooling, community service, religious organizations and various other places. So, ask yourself, what brings you the greatest joy? Is it seeing someone’s face light up when you bring them  baked goods welcoming them to the neighborhood? Is it when you put another’s needs before your own? Is it when you donate monetarily to a cause you believe in and are passionate about?

There are countless ways in which you can experience joy, but do all of these ways bring you temporary joy or long-lasting joy? Research has found these few specific things, can bring you joy, but it is only temporary joy. Temporary joy includes:

  • Having Lots of Friends
  • Being Financially Successful
  • Being Famous
  • Having Children
  • Winning Competitions
  • Traveling
  • Being Highly Creative
  • Having a Big House
  • Winning the Lottery

Why is it that these things bring temporary happiness and joy but not long-term joy?

An Inherent Desire to Help

“The joy that isn’t shared dies young.”

–Anne Sexton

It is human nature, when we hear of a tragedy, crisis or personal trial among those we know, or even complete strangers, that we find a desire within ourselves to help. Often one of the first questions asked when news spreads is, “What can I do to help?”. When it comes to donating to a good cause, it is not considered a business transaction, it is more of a human connection between two or more people who feel a connection and/or a desire to help.

According to the Network for Good: The Nonprofit Marketing Blog, there are fourteen main reasons why people donate to fundraising campaigns online such as GoFundMe. The reasons range from being asked to donate to feelings of wanting to make a difference. Others reported they donated due to their family values, religious beliefs or out of a desire to have a positive image of self/business.

Most people who give of themselves in assisting others, find they are filled with a sense of joy and an overabundance of wanting to do more to help others. This feeling becomes contagious! I have seen this first hand in my own life, giving of your time or monetarily, turns into an addiction of sorts of wanting to continue to help others whom you cross paths with.

Different Ways To Help Others

There are numerous different ways in which you give back and help others. Obviously, the most popular being that of crowdfunding sites, such as aGoodCause, Classy, Fundly, Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and many more. If you can’t help out monetarily, there are countless other ways, to help others. These ways can include:

  • Volunteering your time. This can be anything from donating at a homeless shelter, food pantry or a clothing drive.
  • Helping a neighbor. It is easy to overlook those who are closest to us and neglect their needs. This is especially true for neighbors. It can be as simple as delivering a plate of cookies to someone who just moved in, mowing the lawn of someone who is unable to, or offering to help them around their home.
  • Donate to a charity of your choice. Find a charity or organization that you are passionate about, and donate to support their cause. There are literally thousands of organizations and charities that are committed to helping others throughout our communities and around the globe.

While these are just a few ideas of ways in which you can give of yourself, help others and bring joy into your own life. If you are committed to helping others around you, keep your eyes open and opportunities will present themselves.

Psychology of Helping Others

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

—Booker T. Washington

It doesn’t come as much of a shock when we take the time to volunteer, serve, donate and help others, we benefit along with those whom we helped.  Psychological studies have found the benefits exceed beyond experiencing feelings of gratitude and abundance, it goes much deeper—in fact there are physical and health benefits that many givers experience.

In the “The Neurobiology of Giving Versus Receiving Support: The Role of Stress-Related and Social Reward-Related Neural Activity” study, conducted in February 2016, researchers studied the impact of giving social support to others on a neurobiological level. Researchers used fMRI brain imaging to pinpoint three specific neurological benefits that came as a result of giving social support to others. Social support is support offered by friends, family, coworkers and others during times of need. This support can come in the form of monetary donations (GoFundMe, cash, gift cards, etc.), time and a multitude of other ways.

Throughout the course of the study, participants were asked about different scenarios in which they were on the giving or receiving end of social support. As expected, participants on both sides experienced lower negative psychosocial outcomes. However, when researchers used fMRI neuroimaging test, they discovered those who were providing the social support showed a greater amount of brain benefits than those on the receiving end. Three specific benefits were discovered included:

  • Reduced stress-related activity in different areas of the brain, specific to that of memories, emotions and decision making.
  • Greater reward-related activity in left and right ventral striatum.
  • Greater caregiving-related activity in the septal area.

Researchers discovered through these three specific areas in the brain that specific activation was only found when the participant gave social support.  This activation was not found when the participant was the receiver of social support. Ultimately, researchers believe by giving support to others, it is part of a bigger feedback loop that makes the experience rewarding for the giver; because the giver ultimately receives more long-term benefits than that of the receiver.

It is this feedback loop, which is what I believe provides us with the desire to continue to give to others continually. Not only do we feel good and experience joy and abundance in our own lives when we help others, we also reap the various health benefits as well.

Benefits of Helping Others

“Every single second is an opportunity to change your life, because in any moment you can change the way you feel.”

–Rhonda Byrne

Not only does helping and giving to others provide us with psychological benefits, there are also proven physical benefits as well. These benefits include: reduced stress levels, staying physically and mentally active, and living a longer life.

  • Reduced Stress Levels: those who actively give of themselves to help, serve and benefit others are able to increase their social networks. When you have a larger social network, you are able to better buffer your stress levels and have more ways to give of yourself to help others. Additionally, when you are in the service of someone else, you can experience feelings of having a purpose and being appreciated by others. Both of which can be expressed and felt by the giver and receiver, which ultimately have stress-reducing effects on the individuals.
  • Mental and Physical Activity: a lot of volunteer activities encourage you to get moving, being physically active and thinking at the same time. Studies have found those who volunteer to help others report they experience better physical health than those who don’t give of themselves to assist others.
  • Live a Longer Life: a review of data from the Longitudinal Study of Aging found individuals who volunteer their time, give of themselves to help others have a reportedly lower mortality rate than those who do not. Other studies have found those who suffer from a chronic or serious illness, experience a decline in pain intensity and depression as a result of helping others.

There are other benefits that come around as a result of giving of yourself to help others. Some of the biggest are the feelings of fulfillment, satisfaction and joy. These are all benefits you can notice and experience almost immediately, whereas other benefits might not be as easily noticeable in the moment.

Bringing it Home

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

–Maya Angelou

A few years ago, my husband and I were presented with the opportunity to donate to a GoFundMe campaign. A gentleman my husband knew and worked with briefly experienced a sudden, unexpected, tragedy in his family. When we were asked by other coworkers if we would consider donating to the cause to help cover expenses, we didn’t have to think about it. We knew we were in a position where we could donate, we knew it would help this family through a very difficult time. So, knowing we could help, we did!

While we didn’t know this gentleman very well, we didn’t know his family or his home life, we still felt that we needed to do what we could to help this family. It went beyond the fact that my husband had worked with him, it went beyond being asked by others to help this family. For us, it was a chance to help someone else through a difficult time. Even though our donation wasn’t the largest, nor was it done to receive recognition, we felt joy, for in some small way we were able to help this family.

I often reflect back on this experience, when I am presented with other opportunities to make a donation.  Whether it be a financial donation to a GoFundMe campaign, a donation of my time, talents or services, if I can help to ease another’s burden, I find myself more willing than I was before this experience.

Abundance Becomes Part of Our Identity

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”.

— Winston Churchill

Why might this be? When we made the decision to make a small financial contribution to this particular family’s campaign, we both felt a sense of gratitude, abundance and a desire to do more. We felt gratitude that we were in a position where we could contribute and hopefully, in some small way make this difficult time in their life more bearable. We felt a sense of abundance, we had both been raised to help those around us in need, to give of ourselves. We wanted to do more to help this family, but due to life, we could only do a little bit. As a result, we have found ourselves helping others who cross our paths.

This sense of abundance we felt, wasn’t a new found feeling. It was a part of us, it is a feeling that has continued to grow, it drives us, and directs the way we live our lives. All from a small moment of making the decision to help a family, we barely knew who was in need. No one would have known if we did not donate, no one would have judged us if we had decided not to contribute, all that mattered was we felt a desire within ourselves to give and assist others in need.

aGoodCause - a boy giving money to a female beggar

This feeling of abundance has carried over to other experiences and opportunities I have had in my life to give of myself to serve and assist others in need. Whether it is a simple act of dropping a couple of bucks into a collection can outside the local supermarket or dropping off food donations to the local food pantry, the same feelings of happiness, joy and abundance are experienced.

For my family and I, the thing that brings us the greatest joy is when we give of ourselves to help others in need. After the first taste of abundance and joy from a modest donation to a good cause, I have sought out opportunities where I can experience the same level of joy and fulfillment.

Giving and Receiving Goes Both Ways

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

–Edith Wharton

I have been on the giving end of donations and service of others, I find it difficult to accept service and help in my own life. Recently, due to changes in careers, my husband and I live in two different states for a brief period of time. During this time, I find myself in need of assistance with some manual labor tasks around the house. I was so hesitant to ask my neighbors and friends for assistance, as that goes against my nature.

I blame this on the fact that I am so accustomed to providing service to others, that I have a hard time accepting it myself. When I finally admitted to myself that I did need help and that I couldn’t do it myself, I was surprised to find just how eager everyone was to provide the help I needed. Not only did they help with the small project I initially needed done, they did more!

When I went to drop off a small thank you gift, they thought I was going to ask them for help with another project around my house! It was through this experience of being on the receiving end instead of the giving end, that I realized how important it is to not only give when we can but to be on the receiving end when necessary.

Through my experience, I believe in order to fully appreciate the benefits, and might I add, blessings that come with giving, we need to also experience receiving service as well. I was able to experience a wide range of emotions from their simple acts of service towards me. My feelings ranged from being humbled, loved, blessed and grateful, and joyful knowing others are so willing to give of themselves and their time to assist me.

What Brings the Greatest Joy?

“Joy is increased by spreading it to others.”

–Robert Murray McCheyne

I believe in order to answer this question of what brings us the greatest joy, will vary from person to person. This is an individual and personal answer that we each must answer and decide for ourselves. For me, my family brings me the greatest joy in my life. While there are other elements of my life that do bring me temporary joy, it is singularly my family and giving back to others that brings me the greatest long-term joy.

Knowing what brings me the greatest joy in my life, allows me to know where I get my strength, joy and desire to pass that joy on to others. This knowledge allows me to be able to refill my cup with joy so that I am able to continue to give of myself to help others. That in turn then allows for me to continue to give of myself to bless others lives and in turn bless my own life.

Finding what brings you the greatest joy in your life, will allow you to do those things and spend time with those who bring you joy. Whether it is your family, career, friends, kids, etc. there are numerous things you can find joy in. It is recommended you find ways outside of your current social network that allow for you to give of yourself, serve others and find joy.

I challenge you, to take some time to ask yourself and find what elements in your life bring you the greatest joy? How can you take that joy and use it to bless and benefit others around you? I promise, the more you give of yourself the more joy you will find in your life!

Author: Ashley Christensen


Sources:

Smith, Craig. “By the Numbers: 6 Interesting GoFundMe Statistics.” DMR, 1 Apr. 2018, expandedramblings.com/index.php/gofundme-statistics/.

“How To Get Donations, 14 Reasons Why People Donate.” Network for Good, 7 May 2018, www.networkforgood.com/nonprofitblog/how-to-get-donations-14-reasons-why-people-donate/.

“3 Specific Ways That Helping Others Benefits Your Brain.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201602/3-specific-ways-helping-others-benefits-your-brain.

Paul, Margaret. “The Greatest Joy in Life.” Dr. Margaret Paul, www.innerbonding.com/show-article/4000/the-greatest-joy-in-life.html.

“Helping People, Changing Lives: The 6 Health Benefits of Volunteering.” Services and Treatments – Mayo Clinic Health System, mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/helping-people-changing-lives-the-6-health-benefits-of-volunteering.

“3 Specific Ways That Helping Others Benefits Your Brain.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201602/3-specific-ways-helping-others-benefits-your-brain.

“7 Scientific Benefits of Helping Others.” Mental Floss, 4 Dec. 2015, mentalfloss.com/article/71964/7-scientific-benefits-helping-others.

“Achieving Happiness by Helping Others.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/teen-angst/201701/achieving-happiness-helping-others.

Spring Cleaning for Your Soul

There is something about the melting snow, the gentle rains, the warm sunshine, and the blooming daffodils that makes the heart soar.  It is SPRING! The time when we wash away the dust from the windows, and sharpen up the lawn mower blade. Children start to go from snow clothes to shorts, and mud becomes a common enemy on your pets paws.  

Spring has always been my second favorite season.  It would probably be my first due to the greening of the grass (because green is my favorite color) if it weren’t for the awful conditions of the golf courses; but I shall save that discussion for another day.  This article is about spring, and finding ways to lighten your soul.

Just as a mother prepares a home before a new child arrives, in a phenomenon called “nesting” during the spring we clean and prepare for a new stage of life.  This cleaning can result from boredom, a desire to get out of the house, or to make something better. Even the anticipation of the coming summer can make spring cleaning enjoyable and purposeful!

With this in mind, I would like to have us all consider the spring cleaning that we might use on ourselves, to tidy our minds, refresh our spirits and even cleanse the soul.

ADD WATER

The first method of cleansing is the use of water.  Just like the saying that “April showers bring May flowers,” the hydration that our earth gets is just as vital to us.  Our bodies are 70% water! We need water to survive, second only to oxygen. According to Mindbodygreen, “water is one of the most vital elements of life, yet it is probably the one thing that many of us take for granted. Many of us are dehydrated; not only do we not drink enough of this miracle elixir, we mindlessly shower in it, curse it when it falls from the sky and run from it when it tries to weep from our bodies. The humble drop of water enables us to see vibrant rainbow colors reflecting in the sunlight, it gives shape and form to everything, it builds mountains and cliffs, it floods our bodies with nourishment, and it helps to release the pain within our body through the tears we cry.”

  1. Drink 2 liters of water daily.  Hydrate your body.  Cleanse your blood. Relieve stress on your kidneys.  Improve your skin. Give yourself the feeling of being satiated.  Water will be your best friend before you know it! If you want to see more water tips, click the mindbodygreen.com link at the end of the article.

INCREASE OXYGEN

However redundant it might appear to have oxygen on the list of spring cleaning for the soul, consider this: Where are you getting your source?  Step away from the office cubicle and step out into nature. Go for a walk in the evening. Hike a trail. Check out the nearest scenic view. You may be surprised at the freshness of the air.  The more greenery around, the more smells you will enjoy. Get away from the smog and the inversion. Pollution is not your friend, even if it is a familiar sight. Consider taking steps to improve your lung capacity!  Now would be a great time to put down that pack of cigarettes. Step away from the e-Cigarette and vaping. Energize your body by breathing in deep diaphragmatic breaths. You will see your brain capacity increase, as well as your lung capacity!  

2. One Minute Breath: This exercise soothes fear and is said to help cognition. 20 seconds to inhale, 20 seconds to hold breath, 20 seconds to exhale. To start, inhale slowly, filling the lower abdomen, stomach area, lungs and then finally, the chest. Hold the breath in for 20 seconds and then slowly exhale for 20 seconds. Work your way up to 20-20-20; perhaps start with 10 seconds to inhale, 10 seconds to hold, 10 seconds to exhale (or five seconds is great too!). Continue for a minimum of three minutes. If you want to see more on breathing, check the link to yogatoday.com.

SPECIFY EXERCISE

Exercise is one of the best ways to cleanse the soul, because your options are ALMOST unlimited.  From swimming to horseback riding, from cycling to gardening; there is an exercise for everyone!  It seems today that everyone is a trainer and/or critic, but for this article I have chosen to focus on just one exercise which all women (and men) need.  The Kegal. This particular exercise will strengthen your pelvic floor,which supports the bladder. This exercise will help stave off those embarrassing moments when you sneeze, cough, laugh, or even catch a fly ball after the age of 30 (yes, it truy happened)! This exercise won’t make you look better, but add it to your aerobics and strength training!  Your ego can thank me later.

3.  To do Kegel exercises correctly, squeeze the muscles you would use to prevent yourself from passing urine or gas. Hold the contraction for two or three seconds, then release. Make sure to completely relax your pelvic floor muscles after the contraction. Repeat 10 times. Try to do four to five sets a day. Seriously, the best time to practice these is while you’re stopped at a red light.  When it turns green, your done!

We can’t forget while spring cleaning that we need to boost our minds!  Consider adding music to your list. Update your playlist. Find a new and fun station on the radio.  Turn on the music as you do the laundry. Sway the hips as you vacuum the floor. Now not only do you have more fun, but your job goes faster and you are increasing your exercise!

FIND SPIRITUALITY

AgoodCause - Enlightenment

For many, spirituality is found in nature; for others it is found in reading from good books.  Many find an increased spirituality in attending religious services while others find an increase in their spiritual growth by serving others.  Whatever your case may be, the fourth spring cleaning area for your soul is to review what you do to be a spiritual person. This is an era where we tend to look inward, but not in a necessarily positive manner.  Focus not just on the “me” but on the “we.”

4.   Bless: in an article found in conscious lifestyle magazine, they point out the importance of taking a moment to bless what we consume. Consider the number of people and the amount of energy it took to bring you whatever it is you are about to eat or drink. When we bless our food and drink, we are expressing gratitude for all of the labor those individuals exerted to create the sustenance we are about to enjoy. Blessing also directs positive, uplifting energy toward it. By regarding our food and drink not simply as something to consume, but as a gift, we consciously create feelings of gratitude. See the link below for more areas you may want to consider.

The last area for spring cleaning your soul is to realize just what an amazing creature you are.  The person you see in the mirror is completely unique. There is no one else like you on all the face of the earth!  You have so much potential, and so much power. As you look to start anew, perhaps the most important step that you can have a direct hand in is this:

APPRECIATE YOURSELF

We often get bogged down with self-depredation.  We can look at our shortcomings with loathing or down right pitty.  Trials become stopping points. We literally damn our progress in life, just like a beaver does to a stream.  This year, right now, as you begin the process of lightening your load, and spring cleaning your soul don’t forget this:

    5. MIRROR: Look in the mirror and recognize that what you see is just a glimpse of who you are, and what you can become.  Smile at yourself. Look at the laugh lines, the wrinkles, the freckles, the gray hairs, the balding areas! Then close your eyes.  Look away from the mirror.  Feel your heartbeat. Feel your lungs take in air.  Think your positive thoughts, put on your walking shoes, and go out into the world and make a difference to someone else.  

These five simple steps might be just what you need to spring clean the cobwebs from your life!  Sharpen the blade of your mind and soul, and see how beautiful your life really is. Much like the earth after a soft rain or a lawn after being freshly mowed, we too can look forward to a new year with a “Spring” in our step.  Love yourself. Care for yourself. And finally, appreciate yourself for the miracle that you are.

Author:  Katie Stevens

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5659/8-Ways-to-Cleanse-Your-Mind-Body-Soul-with-Water.htm

lhttps://www.yogatoday.com/blog/rise-shine-with-these-quick-breathing-techniques

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/5-of-the-best-exercises-you-can-ever-do

The Three Pillars of Service

“Service is like peeing your pants. Everyone sees the results, but only you get to feel the warmth.” This turn of phrase from back when I was in Boy Scouts is something that has always stuck with me. When it was time to do one of the many service projects we did, sometimes we needed to pump ourselves up a bit, and humor is a very powerful tool. As an adult, humor is not as important and I try to keep in mind the words from Mahatma Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” In my eyes, service is a three-pillar system: providing service to others, providing service to yourself, and being accepting of service. You may think I am crazy, but hear me out.

#1: Service to Others

Obviously, this is the most common service and the one you likely expected to read about when you started this article. Marie Osmond has said, “Being of service to others is what brings true happiness.” I find this to be true in my life. I have been able to provide service for many people in my life both through family and friend service projects, as well as through organizations like my church and the Boy Scouts. I have had incredible examples of service to others in my life as well. Service can be something that takes but a few minutes or something that takes several hours or days. It can be something that is simple, or something back-breaking. However you do it, do it with love. Audrey Hepburn said, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

My sister spent some time in Alberta, Canada as a volunteer for her church. While there, a large river flooded a town she was staying in. While she and her apartment were fine, a great many homes were destroyed. She spent several days helping to clean up houses from the mud and water, and trying to salvage people’s lives and property. This was a large undertaking and she informed us of the exhaustion and sorrow felt by all of those involved. Ultimately; however, she was excited that she was able to help out and make the lives of these people she was serving a little bit better. She jumped right in and worked hard because there was a need and looking back on what she was able to accomplish brought a profound and unbreakable sense of love for those she served.  My sister is a stalwart example of serving selflessly and completely. Yet, she will tell you that she gained more out of helping those people than they ever did, because of the unmeasurable feelings of accomplishment and pure love that ultimately feeled her soul for a job well done.

I have been lucky enough to have wonderful examples of service in my life. My mother has always had an altruistic side, even when it’s not outwardly apparent. She has always been the first to send a card when she knows someone suffering through a trying time, sent food to a family who is enduring a trial, or going without something so that her children are taken care of. She does this without wanting or needing recognition. My grandfather is also a prime example of true service. Throughout his long life, he has been of the disposition to literally give the shirt off his back. He has had people move in with him when they needed to get back on their feet. He has organized clothing drives, picked up furniture from family members who were getting rid of it to give to someone who needed it. He has loaned his vehicles to children and neighbors who need to get to work. He has… Honestly, the man takes service more seriously than anyone else I’ve ever met. Even now at his advanced age, and less than spry health, he still tries to help everyone he comes across.

When I was in the Boy Scouts, we did more service projects than I can really count. We did small things like cleaning the trails as we hiked, raking neighbor’s leaves, and mowing people’s lawns. One of the more intense projects was for an elderly neighbor whose house was being repossessed and who would have nowhere to go. Someone donated a piece of land, and others donated supplies and expertise, and together with us Scouts, we built this woman a small, but functional 1 bedroom house for free. It was exhaustive, backbreaking work, but for this woman, it made her whole world. Service does not have to be this grand. Small acts of kindness are just as important.      

Have you ever been “elfed?” You probably have, you just called it something else. At Christmas time, we would pick a family in our area that we knew needed a little extra help, we would wrap presents, stick them in a bag, and “doorbell ditch” the family with the bag of gifts. We called it “elfing” because of the time of year, and feeling like we were helping Santa by being his elves. We were recipients of this exchange as well, and it was so lovely and exciting to receive these sweet gifts. Maybe you have done the 12 Days of Christmas for someone where you give a small thoughtful gift for the 12 days leading up to the holiday. Maybe you participate in an Angel Tree. These are all sweet, simple, and thoughtful service projects that get you in the spirit of the holiday and help those in need.

Have you ever given someone a “Heart Attack?” I’m not talking about that time your sister jumped out of the darkness of the basement and you were sure your heart stopped, but something very different. “Heart Attacking” is something that shows how much you care about someone. Cut out paper hearts in different sizes and colors, however many you want, write complimentary phrases on them, and stick them to someone’s door. Then ring the doorbell and run. The person on the receiving end of this feels so loved, and so appreciated. Again, it’s a simple act on your part, but it can change the entire outcome of the other person’s day. Maya Angelou stated, “People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maybe you don’t have the ability to donate your time or strength to serve others. This does not exclude you from being able to assist others. You can send a kind and thoughtful card to brighten someone’s day. You can send a text message or a quick phone call and it will make all the difference. You can make a monetary donation or even set up a system for others to donate to someone. aGoodCause.com is an excellent place where you are able to set up a campaign to help yourself, or more importantly, others get donations from others to help with whatever is needed.

I am a big Cinephile (keep your head out of the gutter, it means I love movies.) There are many beautiful movies that illustrate service, and honestly, I could go on for a very long time about them, but one of the most poignant to me is “The Ultimate Gift.” This movie begins with a spoiled, bratty, trust fund kid whose father dies. He is left his father’s entire fortune, but he cannot take possession of it until he follows through on a series of tasks designed to help him become selfless and to learn the importance of serving others. He goes on quite the journey during the film, including meeting a young mother and her daughter who is going through cancer treatment. He learns the importance of family, and the Ultimate Gift of love by serving others.

#2: Service to Self

Audre Lorde said, “I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” I know, you might be thinking, this guy is nuts. “Service to myself?” But hear me out. Who do you spend the most time with every day? Nope, it’s not your spouse, not your dog, not your co-workers, and not your kids. I’ll give you a hint; look into that shiny thing on the wall in your bathroom… It’s You!! In fact, it was You all along! In all seriousness, taking care of yourself is as important and some may even argue even more important than taking care of others. Now, I am not advocating for becoming a hermit or ignoring the plight of everyone else because you believe you are better than them. First and foremost, no one is better than anyone, so get that out of your head. But what I am speaking about, is that if your life is unstable and messed up, it can impact your ability to care for others. Example: if you are constantly depressed and unable to get out of bed, how are you going to get out there and help someone rake their leaves?

If you’ve ever been on a plane, part of the safety demonstration includes the oxygen masks that may descend into the cabin in the event of an emergency. As part of the script for the demonstration, they say to make sure you put your own mask on first prior to helping any children or others next to you. This has always been an interesting thought to me. I thought, why wouldn’t I want to help my child first to make sure they are ok? But the reality is, if I pass out from no oxygen, no one is getting helped, and it makes things so much worse. This is similar to what we need to do with ourselves in regards to service. We need to make sure we are serving ourselves, (not exclusively), to make sure we can help others.

#3: Accepting Service

           “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” Mr. Mark Twain said those words, and does it not describe service most beautifully? We talked about providing service to others, and service to ourselves, but what about when service is done unto us? A kind gesture of service when you are in need is priceless. What can lower the value of your joy and the joy of the one providing the service is pride and being unable to accept the help of someone else.

There have been times in my family’s life where we needed some help. We didn’t advertise this but yet some truly kind-hearted people somehow knew. Whether it was the “elfing” when I was a child or an envelope of cash with a sweet card, we have been very blessed with amazing people in our lives. But imagine for a moment if we would have said no and refused the gifts? I’m not talking about the polite, “oh you shouldn’t have,” or, “I can’t accept that.” I’m talking about straight up refusing to accept the kind-hearted gift. Imagine how that would make someone feel? What right do you have to defuse the joy of someone who thought of you?

Pride is a difficult emotion. While it is important to have pride in yourself and your achievements, when your pride takes away from other’s happiness is when it becomes harmful. John C. Maxwell articulated this well in the following quote, “There are two kinds of pride. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.” If you view yourself as better than, you are denying the “good pride” of others.

Follow the Three Pillars of Service

Service to others, service to self, and acceptance of service are the three pillars of service. Each day that we are privileged to live on planet earth that there will be presented good causes that will allow us to take part in one or all of the three pillars of service.  Be kind to others and be willing to give of yourself, when you can, to make someone’s life better. Be kind to yourself and make sure your needs are taken care of so you can help others most effectively. Lastly, be willing to accept the gift of service gracefully. If we can do these things, we are able to reach a better plane in life and experience true happiness.

Author: Elijah Brandley

Philanthropy is Not About Money

“Philanthropy is not about money, it’s about feeling the pain of others and caring enough about their needs to help.”—Timothy Pina

In a world that is quickly turning into a selfish and often a needy society, it is no wonder that the idea of being a philanthropist is not the main topic of conversation among individuals and groups. Although it is less common today, as it may have been in years or centuries prior, it is not an idea that has completely died. This is because examples of philanthropist can be found all around through acts of kindness, fundraisers and genuine kindness exhibited by individuals towards others.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “philanthropy” is a noun, which is defined as: “goodwill to fellow members of the human race especially: active effort to promote human welfare.” Other definitions include, “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes” and “an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes.” Furthermore, the Oxford Dictionary defines it has “the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes”.

Examples of Philanthropist

“Never respect men merely for their riches, but rather for their philanthropy; we do not value the sun for its height, but for its use.” –Gamaliel Bailey

For most of us, we are presented with opportunities to donate to various different charities, that are intended to help individuals and groups with a specific goal in mind, such as special needs outdoor activities, children with cancer fun runs, multiple sclerosis, burn camps for children and veteran’s fun runs to name a few. In fact, if you look around, there are plenty of philanthropist who quietly work behind the scenes giving freely of themselves for the betterment of humankind. More often than not, these people silently, give of themselves; not wanting a lot of fanfare or recognition. Others have dedicated their life to being a philanthropist like Mother Teresa, and actively work towards bettering human welfare around the globe.

According to an article published on forbes.com the list of the top fifty of the most generous people in America, you’ll find famous names such as Warren Buffett, Bill & Melinda Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael & Susan Dell and many others.

Most famous people—actors/actresses, billionaires, athletes, and so forth have charitable organizations they endorse and support, and are thereby considered to be a philanthropist. Others have started their own charitable organization that supports something that they are passionate about.; including St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, animal rescue and shelters, underprivileged children and cystic fibrosis, just to name a few. The biggest thing to remember, is that you don’t have to be rich or famous in order to be a philanthropist, every single person has the innate ability to be a philanthropist in their own way.

While all of these different individuals and couples are doing great things and definitely fit the definition of being a philanthropist, they are well known for more than their charitable contributions. Once again, no where in any definition of “philanthropy” does it state that part of the requirements to be considered a philanthropist do you have to be famous or a billionaire.

Some of the most famous philanthropists around the world, made a huge difference without having copious amounts of money at their disposal. These people include Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and others all had a desire to make the world around them a better place, and made that their life mission. As a result, people continue to emulate them and the example and legacy they left behind.  

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu dedicated her life to caring for the less fortunate and the destitute around her. At the young age of 12, Mother Teresa felt a strong call from God, telling her that she needed to be a missionary and to spread the love of Christ. At the age of 18, she left home and joined the Sister of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns who had missions in India. It was while she was in Calcutta, India that she got a glimpse into the suffering and poverty outside the walls of the convent. What she saw had a profound impact on her, that in 1948 she received permission to leave the convent school and devote her life to working alongside the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. She had no funds to aid in her efforts, she depended on Divine Providence and was able to start an open-air school for children who lived in the slums. Eventually she was joined by voluntary helpers and financial support came forth, which made it possible for her to extend the scope of her work. The work and effort she put forth into being a philanthropist to those in Calcutta has been recognized and acclaimed world-wide. Mother Teresa received numerous awards for her work in providing aid and support to those in need.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi, or better known as “Gandhi”, practiced a nonviolent philosophy that promoted passive resistance. Following World War I, Gandhi was active as the leading figure in India’s struggle to gain independence from Great Britain. Because he believed in nonviolent actions to promote change and bring awareness to bigger issues, such as, excessive land-tax and discrimination against farmers and urban laborers, throughout his life. He undertook numerous hunger strikes both as a means of self-purification and political protest to the injustices that his native people were experiencing. Gandhi was committed to helping India gain economic independence, so much that he advocated for the manufacturing of khaddar, or homespun cloth to replace imported textiles from Britain. Although he was imprisoned for his beliefs, he never stopped fighting for what he felt was right and what would provide India and their citizens a better quality of life.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was instrumental in helping to advance the civil rights movement in the 1950s in the United States. In addition to his efforts to advance civil rights, he also worked as a co-pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. King, was a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. With this position, he was eager to organize nonviolent protest and movements to improve the quality of life for his race. Some of the most famous events that Dr. King organized include the bus boycott of 1955 that lasted for 382 days. As a result of the nonviolent, bus boycott, the Supreme Court of the United States declared the laws unconstitutional that required segregation on the buses; allowing for whites and coloreds to ride the same bus as equals. In 1963, Dr. King lead a peaceful march with 250,000 people, on Washington, D.C., where he delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech. He was arrested upwards of twenty times between 1957 and 1968, and was assaulted at least four different times. Nevertheless, he did not let these incidents and incarceration stop him for promoting his belief and conviction of equal rights. As a result of his efforts, he was able to motivate both whites and coloreds to work together to advance the civil rights movements. He had the ability to get others to see both races as equals and not divided. Although, his life was cut short before he could fully see the fruits of his labors, Dr. King had a dramatic impact on the civil rights movements and future generations to come. He left a lasting legacy that has propelled him to be an iconic philanthropist who was willing to die so that others would have a better quality of life for generations to come.

You Can Be a Philanthropist

“Charity is just writing checks and not being engaged. Philanthropy, to me, is being engaged, not only with your resources but getting people and yourself really involved and doing things that haven’t been done before.” –Eli Broad

You don’t have to have billions of dollars or gain worldwide recognition to be a philanthropist in your own community. You don’t have to do something crazy, drastic or profound to make a difference. Simple acts, such as donating monetarily to someone in need or providing acts of service to those around you so they know you care is all it takes to be a true philanthropist. Everyone can be a philanthropist in their own way. Some of the most popular ways that people are able to be a philanthropist is by donating to a family who has a child fighting cancer, helping an elderly neighbor with their yard work or household chores, baking cookies to take to a friend, offering to bring in dinner to a family with a new baby, or providing child care to a family in need. Even small and simple things fit the definition of philanthropy. That’s why I strongly believe that you are a philanthropist; we all have the capacity to be a philanthropist everyday.

Unfortunately, these stories don’t tend to make news headlines, but they happen all the time. Think about the times in your life when you were the recipient of someone else’s generosity. Perhaps you were a young girl scout out selling delectable girl scout cookies trying to raise money for your troop, or perhaps you were trying to raise money for your school sports team and received donations from friends and community members.

Elizabeth Laird “Hug Lady”

Other examples of everyday philanthropist include Elizabeth Laird, who is better known as the “Hug Lady”. When the United States went to war against Iraq in 2003 in the fight against terrorism, countless troops deployed from Fort Hood, Texas. When the troops started to deploy, Laird was there to send them off with a hug and words of faith and encouragement. When troops started to return home, Laird was once again there to greet them with another hug welcoming them back home. Over the years, she has given out hundreds of thousands of hugs to troops coming and going from Fort Hood. It is estimated that over the years Laird handed out over 500,000 hugs before she passed away at the age of 83 in 2015. This simple act of kindness took little effort on Laird’s part but quickly showed her support and love for the troops. Laird’s example shows that no matter how old or young a person is, they can make a difference, they too can be a philanthropist in their own way. Laird was able to see how much her simple act of love and kindness was appreciated, when thousands of troops came to visit her in her hospital room when she was battling cancer, leaving her with thousands of hugs of their own.

Dorothea Watkins

Many people have not had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Dorothea Watkins, better known as Dottee and her work as a philanthropist. Dottee is a selfless woman who lives in the United States by a Mexico border town. She saw a need in her community and that of the bordering Mexico town. As a result, she wanted to do what she could to make a difference and improve the quality of life for those who were living in poverty in Mexico. Among the needs she worked to alleviate, she learned that young children who were deaf had no way to communicate with their families and vice versa. Dottee reached out to those who could help and was put into contact with a group from El Paso, Texas. The group made the journey to Dottee’s border town and were able to teach Mexican Sign Language (MSL) to young children and their families, along with other interpreters; as a result, MSL is now taught in schools, enabling the hearing impaired to be able to communicate their needs.  As Dottee continued to learn of the needs in her own community, she eventually founded a non-profit organization that provides free healthcare to those in need, along with EMT training to locals, to be able to provide emergency medical services to those in need. Along with meeting healthcare needs, Dottee’s organization works with organizations across the United States that travel to Mexico to build homes and bring necessary medical supplies to the impoverished community. Dottee believes that through empowering the community, the entire community will benefit and have a desire to work together and improve their community on their own.

Dessert Lady

Chances are, you know someone who enjoys baking and enjoys sharing their yummy treats with others more than they do making them. All growing up, I had a neighbor who made the most divine homemade bread and cinnamon rolls. She enjoyed making them so much that she would always make a large batch, more than her family could consume. As a result, living next door to her, she would send over a couple loaves of bread or a dozen cinnamon rolls for our family to enjoy as well. It was a small gesture on her part that made a positive impact on our family. She took the time to share her talents with us, not expecting anything in return. This was a great example of someone practicing philanthropy in my own life, that instilled in me at an early age a desire to do kind deeds to others for no reason other than to be nice.

Paying it Forward

A common act of kindness that I have heard of frequently is where people pay for another person’s fast food order or groceries randomly, with the hope that the person whose life they blessed, would pay it forward and pay for someone else’s. There are countless videos on YouTube that illustrate people doing this very thing, and how it made them feel afterwards. In some instances, they performed this act completely anonymously, whereas others confronted strangers and learned their story. Honestly, watching videos of others doing this act, makes me want to do it for others when I am in a position to be able to do so. I have been the recipient of this in my own life, and it was the biggest surprise to me and it made me happy that I wanted to return the favor. I am continually looking forward to an opportunity where I can pay for another person’s meal or groceries as a way to pay it forward and spread kindness to others around me.

How to be a Philanthropist in Your Own Life

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” –Tony Robbins

There are countless different ways in which you can be a philanthropist in your own life and make a difference in your community. Some of the easiest, most common ways to become a philanthropist include donating to charities and other good causes, baking cookies and taking them to a neighbor in need, spreading joy through hugs and companionship, befriending someone who needs a friend, or volunteering your time at a local food bank or homeless shelter.

aGoodCause - Charity Donation Icons Graphic Concept

With the help of social media, it is easier now than ever before to find people and organizations that need help or volunteers. It is difficult to scroll through a social media feed without finding a post that encourages or ask for people to donate to different causes, fundraisers, charities, etc. This is primarily because as soon as word is out that a disaster, tragedy or accident has occurred, people establish fundraisers as a way for others to donate and help ease the burden of the current situation.

Simple ways in which you can make a difference in someone else’s life is to actively look for opportunities to help those in your own community. The United States Postal Service does a food drive, where all you have to do is place food out by your mailbox to be collected by mail carriers, this is something that occurs in all of our communities and is easy for all of us to participate in without a lot of effort or fanfare. Most food pantries will accept food and monetary donations at their facilities where you can drop off the items you wish to donate.

If you are in a position where you can help someone, make the effort to do so. Even if it is only a couple of dollars that you can spare to help make someone’s situation better, do it. But remember it does not have to include money it can include giving of your time to help someone even if it is just listening to them. I firmly believe in what you do unto others will come back to bless you when you need help in your own life.

A common misconception that many people have about being a philanthropist, is they believe that it requires them to have copious amounts of money. This misconception can hinder people from realizing what they do have to offer, thinking that the only way to help is through monetary donations. No matter how big or small, you can make a difference by donating your time to assisting others in need. Most people who are true philanthropist, work tirelessly, with little to no recognition for their efforts, which is exactly how they want it to be. These people give everything they have to ensure that others needs are met and that they leave the world a better place than they found it.

Example of Real-Life Philanthropist

Recently, I was traveling over 1,000 miles with a group to do a humanitarian project. We were a little over halfway to our destination, when we experienced some serious car problems and ended up stranded on the side of the road. We were in a different state, where we didn’t know anyone or any mechanics or tow trucks whom we could call for help. After frantically searching Google, while sitting on the side of the road and making numerous phone calls all to be told they couldn’t help us (it was late on a Friday afternoon), we were starting to get discouraged. When out of the blue, a guy who happened to be driving past had an empty, flatbed trailer, saw our group (mostly girls) standing on the side of the road and decided to stop. This man stopped, and offered to load our car onto his trailer and take us to a mechanic shop that he knew of a couple of miles down the road. In order to help us, in our time of need, it required that he miss a scheduled appointment to pick up a piece of equipment that he had rented and other plans were delayed. He didn’t care that his plans were disrupted. In fact, he told me that when “you see a group of girls standing on the side of the road, you have to stop and help”. We were forever grateful for this man, who out of the kindness of his heart helped a group of complete strangers who were in desperate need of help. He did not ask for or require that we pay him for his service, he was just happy to help someone in need.

Anyone Can Be a Philanthropist…Including You!

As per the definition of philanthropy, everyone and anyone can be a philanthropist by simply having a desire to do good and improve human welfare – and doing good. Being able to make a difference has never been easier, as there is a plethora of opportunities that provide every single person the ability to give back and pay it forward in their own communities, nationwide or worldwide.  

I challenge you to look outside your own personal life, and find ways in which you can give freely of yourself to improve another’s life. Find ways to implement the idea of being a philanthropist into your life and you will benefit from it. Find a good cause that you believe in or that tugs at your heart strings and donate to it, or share it so that others can donate.  

In order to be a philanthropist, you don’t have to donate money, there are other things that you can do that will also make a positive impact and promote the betterment of human welfare. Simple things such as volunteering your time, bake cookies, visit the sick or elderly, send a card in the mail just to let someone know that you are thinking about them. Another easy way to help others that doesn’t require money is to help pass out or post flyers for an upcoming event or good cause.  

There are ample opportunities and ways in which every single person can be a philanthropist. Don’t let the idea that you have to be a famous person or have millions of dollars stop you from making a difference. When you look for opportunities, you will find them in abundance. If you see someone in need, ask yourself if you are able to fill the need, and do so if you are capable. All of these small things add up to make a big impact that can truly change someone’s life for the better.

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sponsored by aGoodCause.com – Philanthropy at work.

Sources:

Merriam-webster.com. (2019). Definition of PHILANTHROPY. [online] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/philanthropy [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2019). philanthropy | Definition of philanthropy in English by Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/philanthropy [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Forbes.com. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/top-givers/#193d89d566ff [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

NobelPrize.org. (2019). The Nobel Peace Prize 1979. [online] Available at: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1979/teresa/biographical/ [Accessed 9 Feb. 2019].

HISTORY. (2019). Mahatma Gandhi. [online] Available at: https://www.history.com/topics/india/mahatma-gandhi [Accessed 9 Feb. 2019].The Washington Post. (2015). The extraordinary story of the grandmother who committed her life to hugging soldiers. [online] Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/11/14/the-extraordinary-story-of-the-grandmother-who-committed-her-life-to-hugging-soldiers/?utm_term=.ff532502a68b [Accessed 12 Feb. 2019].

6 Small Things to do to Make a Difference

When we think of charity work and providing service to those around us, we may feel overwhelmed as we imagine labor-intensive and time-consuming projects such as rebuilding homes after natural disasters and cleaning up a run-down park in an older area of town. However, providing relief and help to others in our community doesn’t have to be anything difficult or extravagant. Think back to when you were facing something difficult in your life and remember what small things others did for you that really helped you. Maybe you received a thank-you note or were given a plate of cookies. Often small acts of kindness are all that is needed to be able to make a difference in someone else’s day. Here are six small and simple ways that you can help someone in need.

Donate

If you’re looking for something to do for others this week, make it a goal to donate to someone else in need; even if all you can give is $5. You can tip your waiter more than usual, give it to a homeless person, find a charity or good cause online, or tape a five-dollar bill to the vending machine on campus or at work. Even though $5 isn’t a lot of money, it can still help someone in need and brighten their day.

Initiate a Conversation

Whether you are on the bus or waiting in line at the grocery store, try starting a conversation with someone around you. You can begin by complimenting their outfit and then asking them how their day went. Make eye contact and pay attention to what they say. Having a quick but uplifting conversation can help raise that individual’s spirits for the rest of their day.

aGoodCause - Helping someone to enter the room

Hold the Door Open

It’s always nice when someone is willing to take a few extra seconds to hold the door open when you are entering a building or room. This small act doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, but your awareness of those around you can help them to feel noticed and valued.

Bring in the Trash Cans

On trash day, once the garbage man has done his rounds, bring your neighbor’s trash cans in from the curb and up their driveway. It won’t take you long, but your neighbor will appreciate the nice gesture.

Buy a Little Extra

Each time you’re at the grocery store this month, pick up a few extra canned goods. These don’t have to be expensive and you can even purchase ones that are on sale. After one month of buying a little bit extra food each visit to the grocery store, take these items down to the local shelter or to a neighbor in need. Even though you are donating just a little bit, they will appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity.

Start a Fundraising Campaign

When someone you know is experiencing something difficult, it can be hard to know what exactly to do for them. However, starting a fundraising campaign can be a simple, but very helpful service to provide. Not only will the funds you raise provide some relief for them, in their time of need, but seeing the donations from their community members can help them to feel the love and support of others.

Even if you feel that you have limited resources or not enough time to volunteer, there are still plenty of ways you can help others in your community. Try doing one of these small acts and you’ll be surprised at the difference you can have on the lives of those around you.

Author:  Brindisi Olsen Bravo