Giving Tuesday: Making a Difference in Your Community

“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.”

–Kathy Calvin, CEO & President of the United Nations

This time of year, can be busy, stressful, expensive, and for some hard and depressing. It is also the time of year, when people feel inspired to bless and help others around them who aren’t as fortunate as they are. You will often see people donating spare change to Salvation Army’s Santa, Angel Tree’s, Sub for Santa projects, and Giving Tuesday campaigns. Additionally, top fundraisers, philanthropists, and nonprofits select aGoodCause.com to champion their Giving
Tuesday and other fundraising campaigns.

It is with this spirit of giving, that the idea of “Giving Tuesday” was born. According to givingtuesday.org, Giving Tuesday is defined as a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world”. Simply stated, the idea is to inspire people to make a difference in their own community through generosity, giving and collaborating with others.

The idea behind Giving Tuesday, was simply to encourage people to do good. Officially created in 2012, Giving Tuesday has grown into a global idea that motivates and inspires people from all across the globe to give and contribute to making a difference.

Studies conducted by givingtuesday.org, state that those who participate in Giving Tuesday, 82-percent are inspired to be more giving throughout their life and not just on Giving Tuesday. It is this ripple effect that the Giving Tuesday movement envisioned from the very beginning.

About Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year. So, Giving Tuesday 2019, is December 3, 2019, starting at midnight, local time and running for a full 24-hours. When millions of people work together to give and make a difference through generosity, kindness and giving. Although, the Giving Tuesday is celebrated after Thanksgiving annually, generosity and kindness can be spread and shared through everyday life and actions.

The idea behind Giving Tuesday is to provide a positive response to the hyper-consumerism idea of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, by lifting those around us, instead of emptying our bank accounts on material things for the holidays. Giving Tuesday is the perfect time to make a real difference and kick- start the charitable holiday season by doing something small, kind and generous for someone that you may or may not know, so that they too can enjoy the holiday season.

Here is how it works: find a charitable or non-profit organization that you support and make a monetary donation on Giving Tuesday. If you can’t afford to make a financial donation, find another way in which you can support an organization of your choice. One thing that makes Giving Tuesday different from many other organizations, is they have nearly 200 community campaigns that are organized all across the United States, and growing across the globe. These community campaigns are organized either geographically or are a coalition of nonprofits that come together on Giving Tuesday to rally around a cause to garner community-wide support.

aGoodCause - Volunteer sharing food with poor African child outdoors

Giving back to others does not have to cost a fortune, or put you in financial ruins. In fact, giving back and making a difference can be as simple as saying “Hello” to someone you come across, giving someone a smile to brighten their day, or dropping spare change into a donation jar. Participating in Giving Tuesday 2019 doesn’t have to cost you any money either, simple acts of kindness, such as, paying someone a compliment, holding open the door for someone, smiling and saying hello are all ways in which you can participate, spreading kindness without spending extra money this holiday season.

Giving Tuesday Participation Ideas


One of the best parts about Giving Tuesday is that every person, regardless of age or where they live can participate. Getting kids involved in Giving Tuesday is a great way to introduce them to service and kindness at a young age that they can carry with them throughout their entire life. On givingtuesdaykids.org website, there is an entire page dedicated to different ideas and ways in which kids can get involved in Giving Tuesday, often inspiring their peers and adults in their lives to participate as well. In fact, givingtuesday.org states that “younger generations are the ones most likely to participate in Giving Tuesday”, with a whopping 67-percent of those who participate being between the ages of 18 and 34.

Participating and giving back as part of the Giving Tuesday movement is fun and rewarding all on its own, but it is even better when you are able to participate with your friends and family. Create a post and events on your social media accounts, inviting and encouraging your friends, family and followers to participate as well. The more people who participate and contribute to Giving Tuesday the more
successful it will be. One person alone can’t make a huge difference, but together, we can all work to change the world!

There are many different ways in which you can get involved and participate in Giving Tuesday, with a majority of those who participate, doing so in more than one way. One of the biggest ways in which people participate in Giving Tuesday is through a registered Giving Tuesday 2019 campaign. Since its founding in 2012, Giving Tuesday has raised over $1 Billion in online donations in the United States
alone. Top fundraisers, philanthropists, and nonprofits select aGoodCause.com to champion their Giving Tuesday and other fundraising campaigns.

With Giving Tuesday 2019 coming up shortly, I challenge you to find a way that you can giving back to your community. How are you planning on participating in Giving Tuesday 2019?

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources:
https://www.givingtuesday.org/
https://www.givingtuesdaykids.org/

Animal Care Initiative: How You Can Help and Why You Should

If you are anything like me, your pet is more than just a pet, they are a member of your family. Your fluffy little companion becomes a part of you; you take them everywhere with you. You find yourself splurging on new toys and treats because you can and because you love them that much. 

For me, I took my little fluff ball to “puppy classes” as a way for us to bond, training and a fun thing to look forward to besides going to the dog park. At the end of each “puppy class” when she graduated, I would splurge and purchase new toys for her to play with. 

My puppy means more to me than just being a pet, she is a valuable member of our family. She is always there at the end of the day when we get home, she is always good for a laugh and someone to cuddle or play with. I could never imagine mistreating her, because she isn’t just a pet, she is a member of our family, which is why we treat her as such. 

Unfortunately, not all animals get this kind of treatment. In fact, many are neglected, abused or even abandoned. Think of the Sarah McLachlan animal shelter commercials, with her song playing along with facts about animal abuse accompanied with images of abused and neglected animals. At one point in the commercial McLachlan comes on with the sad song playing that tugs at everyone’s heart strings, trying to entice and appeal for the audience to donate money and help rescue animals from abuse. She informs those that do donate, that their “monthly gift” will help to rescue animals from their abusers, medical care, food, shelter and love. As a way of saying “thank you” for donating, the particular organization that McLachlan is advocating for, will send donors a picture of an animal in a shelter that their contribution is going to help. This tactic works for a couple of different reasons. One being people get attached to their pets that it kills them to see any animal hurt or suffering and two the music choice appeals to people’s ethos. 

Aside from appealing to people’s ethos, commercials like McLachlan’s bring attention to a big issue that is often overlooked by many, as it is upsetting and difficult to talk about. The hard reality is that many pets are often neglected or abused by those who are responsible for taking care of them. According to humanesociety.org, it is difficult to accurately calculate how many animals are abused as animal abuse cases are not compiled by state or federal agencies. 

While it might be difficult for some to comprehend the fact that people would ever neglect or abuse their pets, it happens more than you might realize. Abuse and neglect of a pet extends beyond physically harming an animal, it includes failure to provide basic care required to thrive, neglect, puppy mills, hoarding and malicious killing of animals. 

Although some people do intentionally injure and hurt animals, others do so unintentionally. When animal cruelty is done intentionally, those doing the harm generally are knowingly depriving the animal of food, water, shelter, socialization or veterinary care in minor cases. In more extreme cases of animal abuse and cruelty, those perpetrating the acts can intentionally torture, maim, mutilate or kill animals for pleasure or financial gain. 

Having a pet comes with many responsibilities, including financial responsibilities in the form of veterinary expenses, food, and other miscellaneous expenses. When we first brought our puppy home, I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the financial costs that were associated with having a new puppy. We now had another mouth to feed, on top of getting her spayed; if we wanted to leave town, we would either have to take her with us and find places that allowed dogs, generally with a fee, or pay to board her somewhere. Having a pet is an important responsibility, with many aspects that people don’t realize when they first take on a new pet. As a result, some inadvertently neglect their pets simply because they cannot afford to care for them. 

Aside from neglecting an animal, by not being able to care for them; many animals are treated cruelly by their owners. Similar to neglect, animal cruelty is the result of many different reasons according to humanesociety.org, the most common of which being a person feeling powerless, unnoticed or under the control of others. As a result, a person may choose to be cruel and mistreat animals by simply copying acts that they have either seen or experienced themselves. For others, they view harming an animal as a way to seek revenge against or to threaten someone who cares about the animal. 

Reasons for Animal Abuse, Neglect and Cruelty

There are an immeasurable number of reasons as to why animals are abused and neglected every day. These reasons range from either a deliberate action or in some cases a lack of action that results in harm to an animal. According to wildlife-rescue.org, there are two main categories in which reasons for animal cruelty can be broken down into: active and passive. No matter how you classify the reasons for a person’s cruel behavior towards a helpless animal, there is no justification for the mistreatment and abuse of an animal. 

In instances where the abuse and neglect are the result of ignorance on behalf of the owner, education can be used to mitigate future abuse and neglect. For those who need education, will often receive follow up visits to ensure that the situation improves and no further abuse and neglect of their pet occurs. In more serious cases, where actions are intentional, the animal is often removed immediately and taken to receive urgent medical care. 

agoodcause - Man holds a stick in hand and he wants to hit the dog - dog abuse

Intentional acts of violence, acts of commission, and cruelty towards a helpless animal is the result of a person’s deliberate intent to cause harm. Often, the perpetrator is using the animal as a way to assert authority or fear over another person. This can happen via threats to kill a family pet, to assert authority, intimidation, threaten someone to remain silent about a current or previous incident or to simply assert their power over their victims. 

On the other hand, passive actions of abuse and neglect are often the result of a lack of action on the part of the pet owner. While lack of action or lack of knowledge can sometimes be the reason, it does not erase the fact that animals who suffer as a result often go through extreme amounts of pain and suffering. The most common examples of passive abuse include starvation, dehydration, parasite infestations, inadequate shelter during extreme weather conditions, failure to seek veterinary care when an animal requires medical care. 

An example of animal abuse through a lack of action occurred in my hometown. A few years ago, there was an individual who had in their possession heard of horses, all of which they were not feeding. The individual was reported to authorities, which then allowed for the state veterinarian and state brand inspector to step in and assess the situation. Due to the severity of the starvation of the horses, it was advised that they not be transported to a new location as it was likely they would not survive. Volunteers through an informal rescue group were collection donations to feed the horses.

Although, I felt as though I lived in the perfect community, this just goes to show that animal abuse can happen anywhere and to any animal.

Types of Animal Abuse

Now that we understand some of the reasoning behind why animals are abused, it’s important to know what abuse looks like to better understand how to stop it from happening. Abuse and cruelty can take on many different appearances, some more obvious than others. Because some animal abuse occurs on a large scale, involving animal testing and fighting; and others occurs in our own neighborhoods, animal cruelty can be classified into several different categories. 

Animal Abuse

In most cases of animal abuse, there is a deliberate action involving the harming of an animal. The hardest part of being able to stop animal abuse, is that is often does not occur in the open; most instances of animal abuse happens behind closed doors or with no one around to witness the abuse. As a result of not openly seeing abuse happen, it is easy to overlook the fact that it does happen. As a result, most areas have animal control officers who are responsible for enforcing and investigating cases of animal abuse, persecuting the perpetrator and rescuing the animal from the abuser. Although they do help the animal who is being abused, they rely on the abuse being reported to be effective. 

Animal Neglect 

Neglect of an animal often stems from ignorance or a lack of interest in the animal. When a pet is injured or sick, as an owner, you are morally and legally obligated to seek out the appropriate veterinary care for your pet. Unfortunately, for some pets, their owner is either unwilling or unable to spend the time and money that is required to heal and treat their sick or injured pet. 

Neglect of an animal includes more than failing to seek out veterinary care, it also involves failing to feed or provide water for a pet. Some claim that they “forget” to feed their pet, which is not an excuse for neglecting your pet. 

Animal Exploitation 

As sad as it may seem, there are actually people who believe that they have a sense of entitlement towards animals and because of this entitlement they are able to use animals however they want. This is generally done in a way that will bring them monetary gain through exploitation. It is not uncommon for some circuses, zoos, aquatic theme parks and other animal centered venues to exploit animals, under the disguise of “entertainment”. When these animals aren’t out performing for a crowd, they are often kept inside tiny cages, forced into submission and are unable to socialize with other animals of their own species. Other examples of animal exploitation include starving animals, accidents as a result of insufficient exhibits, and abuse to get the animals to perform a certain way. 

Animal Testing 

Using animals to test new products is not a new thing, in fact it has been around for many decades. Although, scientific developments have proved that it is unnecessary and less effective than other methods of testing that are available, animal testing does still occur across the globe. As a result of animal testing, many animals are subject to chemicals and substances that result in itching, burning, chronic pain, lost body parts, and other horrific consequences as a result.   

A prime example of animal testing, comes form the classic 1992 movie Beethoven. In this movie, a family dog is seen by the vet, who quickly realized that they could use Beethoven to test products on. They device a plan to fake a dog bite, forcing the family to have to put the dog down. Little did the family know that the veterinarian would not be putting the dog to sleep, instead he would join other dogs in their possession and be used for testing. Thankfully, the movie has a happy ending where the family catches on to the plan and is able to rescue not only their beloved Beethoven but the other dogs as well.  

Common Issues Associated with Animal Abuse

Now that we’ve established some of the reasons behind animal abuse and cruelty and a few of the many different faces that abuse takes on, it is important to understand what abuse and cruelty looks like in the real world. 

Animal Fighting 

Considered to be one of the most horrific aspects of animal cruelty is that of animal fighting. Whether it is bullfighting, cockfighting, dogfighting or simply fighting between two animals, it is horrific to witness. Animal fighting occurs when one animal is pitted against another, resulting in the death of at least one animal. 

Animal fighting is defined as including social animals that, in the wild are able to coexist without any problems. Although, they might be able to coexist, there may be a sense of dominance of one animal over another, but they do not fight to the death. 

Those who participate or encourage animal fighting do so for more than just the entertainment aspect of it, animal fighting brings in copious amounts of money. Organizers may charge a fee to be an observer of the fight, and will often collect money and facilitate betting between attendees. Organized and non-organized fights occur all across the globe—in developed and underdeveloped countries. 

Prior to an organized event, animals are often kept in small cages except for when they are out being trained how to fight. They do not receive any veterinary care—preventative or trauma-related. The animal that “wins” the fight, often is missing body parts, has open wounds, broken bones among other injuries. Animals who are subject to animal fighting often don’t live long, as they either die in a fight or are destroyed when they are no longer able to fight and bring in money. 

A few years ago, while visiting another country on a humanitarian trip, I came across a cock fight, which is something that I do not condone nor agree with. The two chickens were showing signs of aggression towards one another and their handler, prior to being placed into the same pen. Once they were locked in the same pen, the aggression worsened, especially when the handler cheered it on. It was a horrific experience to see first-hand. Thankfully, those in my group, along with myself spoke up about the cruelty and asked for the fight to stop because it was something that we all viewed to be wrong and not something that we condoned nor wanted to witness for ourselves. The handler obliged and separated the two chickens before any serious injuries were sustained by either one. 

Puppy and Kitty Mills

Chances are, if you’ve ever wanted to bring a tiny puppy or kitten into your home and life, you’ve been advised to adopt from a shelter rather than buying one from a pet store or a breeder online. This is because of puppy and kitty mills, that systematically breed animals for the sole purpose of selling the babies at an inflated price. 

Many breeding mills, do not select grown dogs and cats based on their breeding characteristics or genetic health, they just look for an animal that will bring them a profit. As a result, many of the puppies and kittens that are born have congenital conditions that can have a negative effect on their quality of life. 

Not only are many not healthy when they are born, they are often kept away from other dogs and cats in tiny cages. This minimizes their playing with other animals and socialization. Because there are so many in a breeding mill, they are typically dirty, undernourished and terrified of humans and animals alike. In the most deplorable of conditions, some are even beaten or abused by those who are running the breeding mill.  

Animal Hoarding 

We all know someone who loves animals so much, and want to bring them all home with them. Unfortunately, having too many animals can be a form of animal cruelty even when done as an act of kindness. The reality is, those who have copious amounts of animals at home, believe that they are saving animals and are treating them kindly, when they can actually be inflicting harm on the animals unintentionally. 

Some of the negative repercussions that come from hoarding too many animals inside one home is that, when one passes away, the owner typically doesn’t realize it—at least not for some time. The smell of urine and feces can be overpowering that they are able to mask the smell of decomposition, which results in horrific and unhealthy living conditions for both humans and animals. 

Those who hoard animals, will often bring home more pets with little to no regard to having the animal spayed or neutered. As a result, there are often new litters born, increasing the number of animals inside the home. These new additions often do not receive any veterinary care after they are born. 

Just last month, I read a news article about an elderly woman who had more than 100 dogs, living inside her home. Authorities were first notified, when neighbors began to call city officials complaining of a foul smell coming from the home. It wasn’t until authorities arrived that they learned the source of the smell. No dead animals were found inside the home, while some were found to be in worse conditions than others. Authorities who responded to the home, were reported as saying that this was the worst case of animal hoarding that they had ever seen.  

Fur Farming

All across history, animal pelts and fur have been a luxury, a commodity that can bring in large amounts of money. In years past, settlers and Native Americans would use animals’ pelts and fur for clothing, hats, and blankets; along with eating the meat—not wasting anything. Nowadays, animal pelts are sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, or more depending on the animal in which it came from. This is especially true for endangered animals, in which there is a huge black market, which brings in vast amounts of money for a single pelt. 

Depending on the animal pelt, some are “field-stripped”, meaning they are skinned alive in the wild. Others, such as minks and foxes are raised in farms, for the sole purpose of harvesting their fur; in most cases the animal is killed prior to being stripped of their fur. Because things have changed so drastically over the course of time, animal pelts and furs are no longer required for human survival, as they have been replaced with synthetic fibers. But some still prefer the cruel treatment of animals to achieve their fashion statement of having “real” fur on their coats. 

How to Stop Animal Abuse

As you can see, animal abuse and cruelty can and often does happen all the time, for a myriad of reasons. Because some instances of abuse are done in private, it is hard to fight back and help animals to escape and survive. 

The best way to combat animal abuse and cruelty is to be a voice for the animals who are being abused. When you see abuse or animal cruelty happening, report it. Contact local authorities and report the abuse. Don’t try to confront the abuser yourself, as you may end up getting hurt yourself. It is best to report it to the authorities who have the power to do something and save the animals from any further abuse. Along with reporting animal abuse when you see it, it is equally as important to educate others about what to do if they witness any animal abuse or cruelty happening around them. 

On a bigger level, there are many anti-cruelty laws in place which include harsh penalties for those who are committing the cruelty. When penalties are couples with counseling as part of a punishment, there can be a decrease in repeat offenders. 

For those who lack the knowledge on how best to care for an animal can really benefit from informational sessions that discuss how to care for a new or old pet, when to seek veterinary care, and how to train a pet. Educating those who don’t know can go a long way to prevent future animal abuse, simply because they didn’t know any different. 

There are organizations, such as Human Society, Best Friends Animal Society, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that are committed to stopping and putting an end to the mistreatment and abuse of animals of all kinds. All of these charities have made significant strides in the right direction, yet still have a long way to go to end animal abuse. If you would like to donate to their cause of ending the mistreatment of animals, all across the globe, you can make a donation through the Animal Care Initiative campaign found at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/animal-care-initiative/. Together with your help we can fight to end animal abuse and ensure that all animals are loved, well taken care of and enjoy the life that my sweet little puppy enjoys! 

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources: 

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/animal-cruelty-and-neglect-faq

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/animal-cruelty-facts-and-stats

https://aldf.org/article/animal-neglect-facts/

Disaster Relief

 “To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.” – Abraham Lincoln

Imagine, sitting at home, relaxing after a long day at the office, when all of a sudden, your whole home starts to shake uncontrollably. Or, you are woken up in the middle of the night, to smoke and a shrieking fire-alarm, your home engulfed in flames. Imagine, knowing that a tropical storm is making its way towards land, and you live right in its path. You’ve done all you can to brace your home and prepare for it, but nothing you do will guarantee your home will make it without significant damage.

Disasters can strike at anytime, anywhere and come in any number of forms—fires, earthquakes, floods, and so much more, often with little to no warning. Since moving to a location where natural disasters are more common than I am used to, I have had to think about how to be prepared for the unexpected and what resources are available to me when a disaster does strike. Many resources are available on both a local and a national level, depending on the severity of the disaster and the number of people affected.

Being prepared for a disaster goes beyond having an evacuation plan in place, ensuring all family members know where to meet in the event of evacuation, and having food and water on hand. Sometimes, no matter how much you prepare for a disaster, you might need help from an outside source. Whether that help comes in the form of food and water, financial donations for repairs or starting over, clothing or shelter until you are able to return home, relief can come in many different forms.

Knowledge is power, therefore, knowing what to expect and knowing that you are prepared can go a long way in helping to keep you calm and thinking clearly when in the thick of things. Although, no one can prevent a disaster from happening, being ready can help to protect yourself and your family. At the same time, having the knowledge that there is going to be help and resources with disaster relief, can be comforting and reassuring knowing that you won’t be left alone to pick-up and start rebuilding your life.

While I believe in being prepared, and doing all I can to be self-sustaining in the event of a disaster, chances are there will be times when I’ll need help from outside resources to get back on my feet no matter how prepared I am or not. This point really hit home when my home felt the shocks of two large earthquakes within a few days of each other, something that I had never experienced before. Therefore, I believe it is important to know how to be prepared, how to help others be prepared and know what resources will be available to help following a disaster.

Different organizations, such as, the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Delivering Good and Goodwill Industries are in place to help with disaster relief. Not only do they have the resources in place to help following a disaster, they also offer education on preparing for a disaster—kids and adults. Before you find yourself in the middle of a natural disaster, take precautionary steps now to prepare yourself, your family and your home.

While I’ve talked a lot about being prepared for a natural disaster, disasters can and often do occur in many other forms. This can include financial disasters, relationship disasters, family disasters, medical disasters and many other types of disasters. Often, when people experience a financial or life-altering disaster, they don’t know where to start to turn things around and get their lives back on track. The loss of a job, mounting medical bills, divorce, loss of a spouse or child an all have devastating effects on a person’s life.

Unlike a natural disaster where you may have some forewarning that it a disaster is coming; life disasters can be equally as unpredictable as a natural disaster. While many advise that you have a savings account for just such instances, savings might not cover all expenses or happen before you’ve been able to build up your savings. When these instances occur, it is important to know that there are resources available to help you through the hard times, and get back on your feet.

How to Prepare for a Disaster

Because disasters are nearly as unpredictable as the weather, it isn’t possible to be completely prepared for every type of disaster that may, or may not happen to you. It will be in your best interest to educate yourself on the types of disasters that are most common to your area, thereby, giving you a starting point for where you can begin to prepare.

Some general ways in which you can prepare for any type of emergency is to establish an evacuation plan for your entire family. Part of an evacuation plan includes designating a meeting place once everyone is outside of the home. This can be instrumental in helping to ensure that everyone is safe. In addition to having an evacuation plan, when possible have a storage of food supply, drinking water, first-aid supplies, and other essential items. Depending on the severity of the disaster, help can be days away from reaching you; which means that it will be up to you to survive.

Other items that aren’t necessarily required for survival, but can be nice to have include a change of clothes, flashlights or candles, a heat source, radio, toilet paper, and many other such items. In addition to having supplies that will become vital for survival, there are a few other things that you need to prepare ahead of time. According to ready.gov these things should include:

1.      Have a Plan

Things to consider when making a disaster relief plan, include knowing how you, your family members and household will receive and be alerted to emergency alerts and warnings. Are you going to rely on emergency alerts via your cell phone, local news stations, or neighbors? Establish a shelter plan that establishes a safe location for everyone to find a safe place to go or stay for extra protection.  Depending on the disaster, the safest location will vary. Be sure that you have a plan in place for the most common disasters for your area.

Don’t forget in situations where you are unaware of outside conditions, it may be best to simply shelter in place. In situations where you are unable to shelter in place and will need to evacuate as quickly as quickly as possible; be sure that you have an evacuation plan/route in place and that all members of your family are aware of the plan and know where to meet. Because there is an increased chance of evacuating and becoming separated from family members, establish a communication plan that everyone knows, to enable you to find and communicate with each other once you have safely evacuated your home.  

During an emergency, or quickly following one, it is going to be imperative that you know where and how to contact family members and who to call for help. This also includes having important numbers, such as gas and electrical companies, where they can be accessed and notified in the event of an emergency or a disaster.

For families that have small children, be sure that you include in your disaster plan where children can be found. This may be the name or their school or child care provider. For families, where both parents work outside of the home, include all contact information for both parents—cell phone and work contact information.

When establishing your emergency plan, be sure that no single person of your household feels as though they should be responsible for carrying out the plan. Assign different responsibilities to different members of your household, and develop a strategy of how you will all work together as a team to ensure everyone’s safety.

2.      Consider Your Specific Household Needs

No two households are the same, which means that no two-disaster relief, emergency preparedness plans are going to be the same. When creating a plan, take into consideration what supplies you’ll need to meet your daily responsibilities. Discuss what those needs and responsibilities are and how others can provide assistance during a disaster to ensure that all the needs and responsibilities are met.

Specific needs to consider include, dietary needs, medical needs—prescriptions and equipment, disabilities, language barriers, cultural and religious considerations, pets or service animals, school-aged children outside of the home. Because no one else will know your household’s unique needs better than you, it is going to be critical that you have a plan and are prepared to meet those needs until help arrives.

3.      Practice Your Plan

Having a well thought out plan is a good start but it isn’t enough. Once you have developed a customized, emergency/disaster relief plan, that will accommodate your family’s unique needs it is time to put it to practice. You’ll want to have a couple of practice runs with your plan to ensure that it is effective and covers everything you need. Don’t run the risk of being caught in an emergency situation only to then discover that your plan was lacking somewhere, or members of your family didn’t know what to do, who to call, where to meet, or how to contact each other. Although you won’t be able to practice every component of an emergency plan, it is advised that you practice as much as you can. Review it often and practice annually to ensure that any changes made to the plan are rehearsed and everyone is aware of their responsibilities.

Disaster Relief

Preparing for a natural disaster is only half the battle, relief and recovery following is when most will say the real work begins. Picking up the pieces, and working to put life back together following a natural disaster can be emotionally draining, financially crippling and even terrifying. Knowing where to find help to begin rebuilding your home and life, cleaning up and starting over, can make the daunting task a little lighter and easier to face.

Despite all of your best efforts, and your preparedness, there can come natural disasters that you are not prepared for. When this happens, there are organizations and resources in place that can help you get back on your feet and start rebuilding your life. These organizations include the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and many local and religious organizations that are ready and willing to lend a hand.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross has many missions that they provide resources and aid to, one of the biggest is that of disaster relief. According to redcross.org, they respond to an emergency every eight-minutes! In addition to responding to emergencies quickly, on average they respond to more than 62,000 disasters every year. Out of those 62,000 disasters, approximately ninety percent were home fires. 

Regardless of the type of disaster, the American Red Cross helps to provide those affected with clean drinking water, safe shelter, and hot meals. When multiple disasters occur at the same time, the Red Cross has the resources and personnel needed to go where they are needed, when they are needed. Part of the reason that the Red Cross is able to provide relief and aid to everyone when needed is because the Red Cross disaster relief workers are comprised of ninety-five percent volunteers.

The mission of the American Red Cross is to meet the immediate needs as a result of a disaster for individuals, families and communities. Whether the disaster is big or small, the American Red Cross is there to provide immediate disaster relief that can make a difficult situation easier to get through.

All of the resources and aid that the Red Cross is able to provide is only available as a result of the generous financial donations that they receive throughout the year. Whether it is a devastating wildfire, hurricane or a home fire, the Red Cross is there. Taking care of those who are hit hardest first, but providing relief to all who need it.

In 2017 alone, the Red Cross was able to respond to 242 large disasters across the world, opened 1,100 emergency shelters, served 13.6 million meals and snacks, along with distributing seven-million relief items. All of this was just in response to the large disasters that occurred. None of this, nor the hot meals, clean water and shelter would have been available to those in need without generous donors. Which is why it is so important that the Red Cross continues to receive monetary donations, where ninety cents out of every dollar goes to humanitarian services and aid. When you donate to the Red Cross through https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/ you are part of a movement of providing help, relief and aid to those in need.

Habitat for Humanity

The vision of Habitat for Humanity is to see a world where every inhabitant has a decent place to live and call home. As a global, non-profit housing organization, they work in all fifty states across the United States and in approximately seventy different countries across the globe. In order to achieve their vision, they work to build strength, stability and self-reliance among those families and individuals who are in need of decent and affordable housing. Those who qualify for housing through Habitat for Humanity, work alongside volunteers to build their home, therefore, establishing an affordable mortgage that they can then afford to pay upon completion of their home.

When applying for housing through Habitat for Humanity, there is an application process that each family must go through. Each local Habitat for Humanity’s family selection committee, convenes and selects candidates based on three different criteria. These criteria are:

·         The level of need for the applicant and their family.

·         Their willingness to partner and work with Habitat for Humanity to build their home.

·         Their ability to pay their mortgage, through an affordable payment plan.

These three criteria are taken into consideration, because every candidate that is selected, contributes and invests hundreds of their own hours towards labor and sweat equity into their home alongside Habitat for Humanity volunteers. This is a requirement in addition to being financially able to pay an affordable mortgage and receiving financial education. Habitat for Humanity follows a nondiscriminatory policy when determining the family’s eligibility. Race and religion are not a factor when selecting homeowners for Habitat for Humanity homes.

Not only does Habitat for Humanity provide families with new homes, they also work in different ways to ensure that the needs of families are being met in different areas. This is achieved through renovating existing home, which is common in many urban areas. Following a natural disaster, Habitat’s Disaster Response teams work with local communities to address and meet housing needs. In addition, Habitat’s advocacy works tirelessly to raise awareness and support for decent and affordable housing around the world. Outside of North America, Habitat for Humanity works with partner organizations, so that they can serve and help even more families through innovative financing methods.

As a non-profit organization, all homes that are built are done on a not-for-profit basis; as a result, Habitat for Humanity depends on generous monetary donations to continue their work and bring their vision to life. With financial donations, families are able to build personal strength, stability and create independence by having a safe and secure place that they can call home.

While, Habitat for Humanity does rely on financial donations, they accept donations of reusable or surplus building materials, furniture and appliances to assist with building and renovating homes. In addition, Habitat for Humanity has local home improvement stores, called Habitat ReStores where they sell such items as, reusable and surplus building materials, furniture and appliances at a fraction of the retail price to the general public. All proceeds are then used to build strength, stability and self-reliance both locally and around the world.

When making a financial contribution to any organization, many might wonder where the funds go or how they are used. According to the Habitat for Humanity website, when donations are made the giver may designate their contribution to go in support of the U.S. affiliate, national organization or another program of their choosing. Others elect to have their donation be undesignated, which are then invested through the Global Impact Fund, where they are dispersed to areas where they will have the greatest impact.

If you would like to donate to Habitat for Humanity, you can do so through A Good Cause’s on-going disaster relief campaign, which can be found at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/

Delivering Good

In recent years, more and more natural disasters have wreaked havoc across the globe, leaving a path of destruction and devastation behind. When a disaster strikes, relief is needed in every aspect in the lives of those affected. The idea of disaster relief, is to provide necessary items to help those affected by a disaster to rebuild their lives and bring hope for the future.

Delivering Good, is a non-profit organization that is committed to providing assistance and support to communities that are affected by a natural disaster in the days, weeks, months and even years following the initial disaster. Some of the products that they have been able to distribute include apparel, accessories, shoes, home furnishings, toys, books and other useful items that can help those suffering to achieve a sense of normalcy as they work to rebuild their lives.

One thing that makes Delivering Good different than most other disaster relief organizations, is that they unite retailers, manufacturers, foundations and individuals to provide relief to those who suffer from the effects of a natural disaster or poverty. This is achieved by the generous new product donations that they receive from companies in the fashion, home and children’s industries.

Since 1985, Delivering Good has been able to donate over $1.9 billion dollars’ worth of donated products, providing relief to individuals and families across the globe. With all the donations that Delivering Good receives, a whopping ninety-eight percent is distributed to those in need. This makes Delivering Good an extremely efficient charity.

In addition to the product donations that Delivering Good receives, they also accept financial donations that aid them in their efforts. If you would like to donate to Delivering Good’s mission, you can make a monetary donation through A Good Cause’s disaster relief campaign found on their website at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/

Goodwill Industries 

Goodwill Industries is a little bit different than the other organizations, in the fact that they provide training programs, assistance with job placement, and other community-based programs to help enhance people’s dignity and quality of life. This organization is geared towards those who have experienced a life disaster of some sorts and are struggling to make ends meet. Goodwill Industries was founded by Reverend Edgar J. Helms of Boston. He is credited with Goodwill’s philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out”, when he began to collect used household goods and clothing from wealthier communities in the Boston area. He then hired individuals who were poor to mend and repair the items, so that they could then be resold, or given to those who worked on them.

The work and mission of Goodwill Industries has grown beyond the Boston area, with a global reach. Regardless of the location, the mission remains the same—providing employment, education, and skill-building opportunities. In 2018 alone, Goodwill Industries was able to help more than 35.5 million people, according to the Goodwill Industries website. Being able to provide on-the-job training, gives those who have experienced a financial, job, or family disaster the ability to apply for jobs that they otherwise might not have been qualified for. Education often leads to a better job, which then leads to better opportunities, ultimately leading to an improved quality of life. Goodwill Industries is able to help turn a disaster into a blessing in disguise through education and training.

If you would like to donate to the mission of Goodwill Industries and help them to continue to help others, you can make a donation online through A Good Cause at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/

How You Can Help

Whether you’ve experienced a disaster yourself and have been blessed by the generosity and kindness of others through disaster relief; if you feel inclined to help others, donating to disaster relief to be very rewarding. Each of these non-profit organizations and many others are committed to helping communities and families rebuild following a disaster.

Some disasters come with some warning, that gives you time to prepare and get out of the way, others come very unexpectedly. Whether you have time to prepare or not, chances are you will need some outside help to rebuild, get back on your feet and keep moving forward. This help can come in the form of a hot meal to keep your energy up, safe shelter to stay until you can return home, or the resources necessary to start over.

agoodcause - help, give, share, hope, volunteer

If you would like to donate to disaster relief, you can make a one-time or regularly scheduled financial donation to A Good Cause’s disaster relief campaign found at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/ .

Author:  Ashley Christensen

Sources:

https://www.ready.gov/

https://www.redcross.org/

https://www.habitat.org/about

https://www.delivering-good.org/

https://www.goodwill.org/

Cancer

Cancer. It is a word that strikes fear into everyone. “We all live with cancer, whether it is present in ourselves or affects someone we love.” “Cancer is something that touches everyone’s lives.” These quotes by Dwayne Johnson and Ellen Pompeo respectively, accurately portray the reality of cancer. It affects everyone, not just those battling the disease in person. 

What is cancer? While there are many different types with their own definitions, Webster’s dictionary defines the general term “cancer” as:  

  • a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis
  • something evil or malignant that spreads destructively

While not a medical definition, the second definition perfectly describes the tortuous disease that is cancer, not just for the patient but everyone around them. It is evil, and like everything else evil in this world, should be eradicated. Scientists, doctors, and researchers around the world work around the clock trying to do just that. There is a well-known quote commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, “ scientia potentia est” or “Knowledge is Power.” Dan Brown said, “We all fear what we do not understand.” Knowledge does give us power, and the more we know about something, the less scary it generally becomes. Hopefully as research continues, we will learn more, and it will make it much less scary. 

Cancer Statistics

The National Cancer Institute has provided several statistics they call, “The Burden of Cancer in the United States.” These statistics were compiled in 2017 and include:

  • In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease.
  • The most common cancers (listed in descending order according to estimated new cases in 2018) are breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectum cancer, melanoma of the skin, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, endometrial cancer, leukemia, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, and liver cancer.
  • The number of new cases of cancer (cancer incidence) is 439.2 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2011–2015 cases).
  • The number of cancer deaths (cancer mortality) is 163.5 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2011–2015 deaths).
  • Cancer mortality is higher among men than women (196.8 per 100,000 men and 139.6 per 100,000 women). When comparing groups based on race/ethnicity and sex, cancer mortality is highest in African American men (239.9 per 100,000) and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islander women (88.3 per 100,000).
  • In 2016, there were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. The number of cancer survivors is expected to increase to 20.3 million by 2026.
  • Approximately 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2013–2015 data).
  • In 2017, an estimated 15,270 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,790 died of the disease.
  • Estimated national expenditures for cancer care in the United States in 2017 were $147.3 billion. In future years, costs are likely to increase as the population ages and cancer prevalence increases. Costs are also likely to increase as new, and often expensive, treatments are adopted as standards of care.

Let’s take a look at some world-wide statistics, they are as follows:

  • Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2012, there were 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide.
  • 57% of new cancer cases in 2012 occurred in less developed regions of the world that include Central America and parts of Africa and Asia; 65% of cancer deaths also occurred in these regions.
  • The number of new cancer cases per year is expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030.

As you can see from these statistics, not many people in this world are spared by the monster that is cancer. Chances are very high that you know at least one person who has been diagnosed with this terrible disease and have had to deal with the trauma that comes with that.

History of Cancer

    Wikipedia states that the first recorded evidence of cancer comes from the Edwin Smith Papyrus written around 1,600 BCE. There is even discussion among historians that this scroll is actually a fragment of a writing from 2,500 BCE. This writing contains the earliest description of cancer, and treatment by cauterization of the breasts. Hippocrates, a greek physician living around 350 BCE, gave us the name Cancer based on the way that a cut tumor looked like a crab, or karkinos in Greek. He also coined the term carcinoma. He described several types of cancers, and various treatments involving diet, blood-letting, and laxatives. 

    The following chart is from Steven I. Hajdu’s article series, “Landmarks in the History of Cancer.” This chart shows the years that these advances in knowledge took place, in addition to showing a world event that happened at the same time for reference.

YearMedical HistoryYearWorld History
3000 BCBreast cancer described3000 BCConstruction of Stonehenge
1500 BCHerbal, mineral, and arsenic therapy, and soft tissue tumor described1500 BCHebrews are in captivity in Egypt
375 BCCancer, carcinoma, scirrhus and condyloma introduced, skin, mouth, stomach and breast cancers, cautery377 BCWalls built around Rome
AD 50Cancer surgery, breast cancer in axilla, lymphedema of the arm, cancer of the liver, colon and spleen, superficial and deep cancers, mixture of honey, egg white, and cabbage for inoperable cancerAD 43Roman invasion of Britain
79Internal remedies before and after surgery, book on drugs published68Nero commits suicide
138Nonulcerated and ulcerated uterine cancers132Seismograph developed in China
200Sarcoma introduced, yellow and black bile, and humoral theories, first pharmacy in Rome200Afghanistan invaded by Huns
403Necrosis in cancer identified403Visigoths invade Italy
562Mastectomy, cancer of the cervix, vulva and anus described571Mohammed is born
690Cancer of intestines described, cancer is painless691Dome of the Rock completed
932Bile duct and intestinal obstructions933Algiers founded by Arabs
1037Polypectomy by wire loop1023Paper money is printed in China
1080Medical school in Salerno and Montpellier1066Norman conquest of England
1106Bloodletting prior to surgery, no extensive surgery1110University of Paris founded
1162Cancer of the esophagus, esophageal cannula for stricture and injection of nourishment, rectal obstruction, hysterectomy1149University is founded at Oxford
1163Holistic healing1163Notre Dame of Paris built
1215The Pope prohibits surgery1215Magna Carta
1296Cancer is locally invasive, wide excision, nasopharyngeal cancer; livid tumors are inoperable, general anesthesia with opium1295Marco Polo returns to Italy
1315Clinical separation of benign and malignant breast tumors, surgeons learn regional anatomy1314Dante writes the Divine Comedy
1320Scirrhus and carcinoma are cancers, classification according to size, site and depth, theory of external carcinogens in England1319Prosecution for body‐snatching
1368Cancers are cold, diet and purgatives for treatment1369Building the Bastille in Paris
1390Anorectal cancers are firm and incurable1388Scotts defeat the English at Chevy Chase

Hajdu’s is a 7 part series and contains vast amounts of fascinating historical information on both the history of cancer as well as the history of treatments for it. I highly recommend checking them out. 

The “War on Cancer” began in 1971 when the National Cancer Act became law. This law became the basis for most cancer treatment organizations, and to help these organizations gain more power to increase research. The United States and other developed nations have spent countless hours and countless dollars on the War. Despite all of this effort however, from 1950 to 2005, death rates have only dropped 5%. However, this could account for higher life expectancy and better mortality rates with cancer. 

Cancer Causes and How to Reduce Risk

    So what causes cancer? The answers to this are a little convoluted. While we have some scientific evidence as to what can cause cancer, the American Cancer Society (ACS) states there is much we still don’t know. The ACS has put together a list of some of the more prominent causes:

  • Smoking and Tobacco use, including e-cigarettes can cause cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, etc. 
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity are factors as well. 
  • UV Radiation from the sun can cause skin cancer and prolonged exposure to gamma radiation and x-rays can also be factors. Make sure you wear sunscreen!
  • Infections are linked to 15%-20% of cancers worldwide. While generally not cancer causing on their own, they can mutate or weaken cells that can then become cancerous later in life.
  • Viruses, including HIV and HPV, have been linked to many different types of cancers, primarily in the lower parts of the body such as the genitals. HIV and other viruses that weaken the immune system, also play a role in lowering your body’s natural defense system.
  • Genetics, including family genetics play a role as well. It can greatly increase your risk of certain cancers, as well as your body’s natural ability to fight off those cancers.     

How can we reduce our risk of cancer? The Mayo Clinic offers these 7 easy tips:

  1. Do not use any tobacco products and avoid secondhand smoke as well.
  2. Eat a healthy diet including:
    1. Plenty of fruits and vegetables.
    2. Choose fewer high calorie foods including refined sugars.
    3. Limit alcohol use. Alcohol consumption has been linked to cancers of the breasts, colon, lungs, liver, and colon.
    4. Limit processed meats. 
  3. Maintain a healthy weight and stay physically active.
  4. Protect yourself from the sun:
    1. Avoid the midday sun as it is stronger and has more UV rays.
    2. Stay in the shade, or use a wide brimmed hat.
    3. Use at minimum, SPF 30 sunscreen and be vigilant about reapplying especially when swimming or spending time in water.
    4. Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. These can be just as damaging as actual sunlight.
  5. Get vaccinated. As well as protecting you from a host of diseases that can injure you or even kill you, be sure to get the Hepatitis B and HPV vaccines to protect against liver, cervical, and other genital cancers.
  6. Avoid risky behaviors. Be sure to practice safe sex procedures such as wearing condoms and limiting sexual partners. Also, avoid sharing or coming into contact with used needles. 
  7. Regular self-exams, cancer screenings, and regular medical check-ups can make all the difference. In many cases, cancer that is caught as quickly as possible, has a higher chance of going into remission.

These helpful tips can make a tremendous difference in being able to keep the poison of cancer at bay.

A History of Treatment

    Throughout recorded time, cancer treatments have been as numerous and varied as the diseases they propose to treat. Beginning with Hippocrates and bloodletting etc, cancer treatment has evolved quite drastically. In the beginning, the concept of an autopsy was not common, and in fact was not only frowned upon, but outright banned by the Pope at one point. 

    In the 16th and 17th centuries, dissection and autopsy became more prevalent and cancer understanding dramatically improved. It was discovered that cancer metastasises (spreads throughout the body from the initial tumor). It was thought at the time, that cancer could be contagious as well. Surgery was considered the best option, however, until the 19th century, it was not safe as hygiene was not great. In the late 19th century, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radiation and its practical applications in medicine. Non-surgical radiation became a new substitute for tumor removal surgery. 

Treatment Options Today

    In modern times, scientists and researchers have been studying the myriad of cancer more fiercely than ever. According to a Forbes Magazine article from December 2018, there are many new advancements on the horizon we should look out for. These include:

    Eventually, we moved to newer medications in addition to the stand-bys of surgery and radiation. After a study of Japanese civilians after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were dropped, it was also discovered that a bone marrow transplant could be very effective for certain cancer types.

  • Immunotherapy: This technique involves using cells to activate or suppress parts of the body’s immune system. This technique has been very effective in certain individuals, though more research is needed to understand why it has not worked for everyone.
  • Liquid Biopsy Tests: These easy, simple, blood tests will assist doctors in identifying cancer much more quickly than tests currently available. They are cheaper, and they can be even more accurate than current methods.
  • Reducing Side Effects of Treatments: Numerous studies have been done or are in the works that are helping those who are in remission deal with the side effects of their cancer treatments.
  • Organiods: This exciting new technology allows scientists to create tiny organs using the patient’s tissues and then test out cancer treatments on them first before putting the patient at risk of side effects, and lowered hopes. 

The National Cancer Institute advises the treatment options that are in use today are in some ways similar to those that were used in historical times. These include:

  • Surgery: Generally safe, this method attempts to remove the cancerous tumors in one fell swoop so they cannot reproduce and spread.
  • Radiation: Targeted blasts of radiation designed to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This method unfortunately also damages healthy cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Using chemicals to attempt to kill the bad cancerous cells. Unfortunately this method also damages healthy cells which can lead to a host of other Immune issues.
  • Hormone Therapy: This slows or stops the production of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. This is primarily used in breast, testicular, and prostate cancers as the cancers utilize these hormones to grow and reproduce.
  • Stem Cell Transplant: Stem cell research has incredible medical and scientific applications. In this instance, healthy blood producing stem cells are transferred into the cancer patient to replace those that chemotherapy or radiation killed.

Medical News Today advises that while the current treatments are great, there are many more new methods coming out. Some favorites include:

  • Therapeutic Viruses or Dendritic Viruses: In this method, Dendrites are removed from the patient’s body. (These cells are key in helping the body’s immune system.) These cells are then amped up and “taught” how to kill specific cancer cells. They are injected back into the body and they go on a John Wick type killing spree, destroying all cancer cells in their path. As awesome as this sounds, there are still many risks, and healthy tissue can still be damaged.
  • Nanoparticles: While seemingly the stuff of science fiction, these microscopic particles can be taught where to go and what to attack. There has already been strides in treating cancer with these particles hyperthermically where the cells heat up and kill the cancer cells from inside themselves.
  • Starving Tumors: This treatment involves blocking the nutrients the cancer cells need to survive. This causes them to die on their own.

Supporting Cancer Patients

    Terri Clark said, “When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.” While I personally have not been affected myself or in my immediate family, I know many people who have been. In fact, some of my dearest friends have a little girl who was recently diagnosed. The way the community has come out to support her and her family has been truly incredible. Local restaurants have held fundraisers, someone organized a 5k event, and the donations and love and support from everyone has been tremendous. 

aGoodCause - Support Cancer Patients

    Gilda Radner said, “Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I’d rather not belong to.” Now that our friend or family member is in this club, how can we help and support them and show them we care? These are important questions because we don’t want to say the wrong things, or force the ones we love, who may not be feeling top notch, into doing things they don’t want to. 

    Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as well as Cancer.net are excellent resources and offer these helpful tips:

  • Ask before you visit. Sometimes the individuals are not having a good day. This could be because of medication, lack of sleep, general exhaustion, etc. Let them decide and sometimes change their minds, and don’t overstay your welcome.
  • Set-up a phone team. This means only one person, not 100 calls the patient and then updates everyone else. This saves the patient from endless phone calls and having to repeat the same thing over again.
  • Offer to help. This may sound easy enough, but simply getting groceries, taking care of their lawn, picking up their kids, or even doing laundry can be an enormous help. Simply make a list of the things you are willing to do to help, and give it to them. Then make sure you follow through.
  • Listen. This may be one of the most important ways we can help. If you feel awkward and don’t know how to begin the conversation or what to say, be honest. Be loving, understanding, and polite. Don’t worry too much about the awkwardness. This is new, confusing, and different for them as well. Also, be sure to not only talk about cancer. Find other important or frivolous lines of conversation. Their body is being controlled by cancer, don’t let their thoughts all be as well.
  • Everyone’s cancer is different. This is important to remember. Do not compare someone you know, or even your own cancer experience to theirs. Everyone deals with everything in their own way.
  • Give thoughtful gifts. Making them dinner, sending flowers, etc. sound great on the surface but dietary restrictions, nausea, and weakened immune systems may render these gifts useless to the patient. Instead write them a letter, make a video, gift them a cleaning gift card, etc.
  • Support their family members. While the patient bears the brunt of the treatments and the diagnosis, their caregivers are dealing in their own way as well. Offer to have your partner/spouse take theirs out for a girls/boys night. Have their kids come to your house for a playdate. This helps these caregivers get out, and still remember to live their lives.
  • Support yourself. Katie Reed said, “Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” Make sure you have given yourself time to process and your own feelings, so you can be emotionally available to the individual.
  • Allow them to feel. Sometimes they will want to be sad, and while it can be good to help them get out of it, it’s important to remember that sorrow is an emotion too. Sometimes you need to cry it out so you can re-center and take on the world.
  • Cancer is not contagious! Don’t withhold normal, appropriate physical touch that you are used to giving them. Cancer is marginalizing enough, don’t give it more power.
  • Love them. Think of these words by Regina Brett, “Cancer is messy and scary. You throw everything at it, but don’t forget to throw love at it. It turns out that might be the best weapon of all.”

How can I help?

    Clint Eastwood said, “Movies are fun, but they are no cure for cancer.” As a huge movie buff, this one stood out to me and made me think. I take it to mean, what have I done to help? I have gone to the movies, bought them, etc.  But have I donated to cancer research? Have I been as helpful as I could have been to family or friends who needed me? This is not just limited to movies of course. We all have our priorities in spending money and time, maybe it’s time to reevaluate some of that time.

    Now, I’m not saying you need to give every penny you have to cancer research, or spend every waking moment with someone who has cancer. But we can all do more! Here are some good ways you can help the Cause:

  • Volunteering: With permission, visit the cancer wards of your hospital. Bring teddy bears to kids, sing or play music for the patients, and ask the hospital or institute how else you can be involved. Get involved in community fundraisers and events.
  • Large Scale Fundraising: No surprise here, but money is the number one way we can assist. Research is expensive, but it is research into the causes and effects of cancer that will beat this monster once and for all. While donating to separate organizations is great, cancer research is a team effort. Using something like www.aGoodCause.com‘s “End Cancer” Campaign is all about this teamwork. This is a first of its kind, specialized crowdfunding campaign designed to raise money for several life-saving organizations at once. It can be easily shared on social media, and you can securely donate one time, or on a recurring basis. You don’t even need to create an account or sign in to donate. Check it out at: www.agoodcause.com/campaigns/end-cancer/. This one of a kind campaign distributes funds raised directly to organizations like The American Cancer Society, The Huntsman Cancer Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, and the World Cancer Research Fund. 
  • Individual Fundraising: Medical bills are expensive, and sometimes, cancer treatments don’t fall under Health Insurance. To help your friends/families/acquaintances, encourage them to set up a crowdfunding fundraiser or set one up for them. It only takes a few minutes to get it running and it can help life a huge weight. A website like www.agoodcause.com is a great tool to help support your friends and family in this way. Plus, its fees are less than it’s colleagues, and the money can be placed into your account immediately rather than having to wait a set amount of time.

“Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” – John Diamon

    We must have hope that things can be better. Now that you know a little more about cancer, maybe it’s not quite as scary as the monster in the closet because you know its there. Remember what we talked about earlier, “Knowledge is Power!” Be helpful to your friends and family members. Do not abandon them in their time of need, and be sure to listen to their needs. Help raise funds and if you are not in a position to donate money, then donate time. Time is just as valuable as money, and can at times make even more of a difference. There is always something you can do to help. Princess Diana said, “Life is mostly froth and bubble, but two things stand like stone: friendship in another’s trials and courage in your own.” Always, always, choose friendship.

Cancer Help Line – 800-227-2345

A 24/7 Hotline for those diagnosed and their caregivers to receive love, support, and a listening ear.

Suicide Hotline – 800-273-8255

 A 24/7 Hotline for people struggling with feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide in general and also after a bad cancer diagnosis. 

Crisis Text Line – Text RISE or CONNECT to 741-741

A 24/7 Textline for people struggling with feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide in general and also after a bad cancer diagnosis. 

Author:  Elijah Brandley

Works Cited

“7 Healthy Habits That Can Reduce Your Risk of Cancer.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 Nov. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/cancer-prevention/art-20044816.

Banner, Valerie. “10 Tips for Supporting a Friend with Cancer.” Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, www.mskcc.org/blog/10-tips-supporting-friend.

“Cancer Statistics.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics.

Cohut, Maria. “Cancer: How Close Are We to Curing It?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 2 Mar. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321106.php.

“End Cancer.” Agoodcause.com, agoodcause.com/campaigns/end-cancer/.

Forster, Victoria. “Five Things To Look Out For In Cancer Research In 2019.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 30 Dec. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/victoriaforster/2018/12/28/five-things-to-look-out-for-in-cancer-research-in-2019/#20fbcce91304.

Hajdu, Steven I. “A Note from History: Landmarks in History of Cancer, Part 1.” Cancer, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 19 Oct. 2010, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cncr.25553.

“History of Cancer.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 May 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_cancer.

“Supporting a Friend Who Has Cancer.” Cancer.Net, 7 Jan. 2019, www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/talking-with-family-and-friends/supporting-friend-who-has-cancer.

“Types of Cancer Treatment.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types.“What Causes Cancer?” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes.html.

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 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