“The worst poverty is the lack of ability to imagine a tomorrow any different than today. The worst poverty is hopelessness. The gift we bring to those less fortunate is the gift of hope.”
-Dr. Jeremiah Lowney, Haitian Health Foundation
Where does the time go? We blink and another year has flown by. If you have been blessed with the gifts of a loving family, terrific job, true friends, purpose in your life and the opportunity to assist others—be grateful.
I had the privilege of growing up in a very positive and humanitarian-based family. From local to international nonprofits, my parents instilled in us that it is an opportunity—versus an obligation—to assist others. My earliest volunteer memory is at age 7, when my mother brought me to volunteer at the Rose Hawthorne Cancer Home. We would clear trays, clean dishes, play cards and talk with the patients. My parents had us involved in Girl Scouts, 4H, church activities, local nonprofit organizations and the NGO they started at the request of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: The Haitian Health Foundation. This instilled a culture of give versus gain.
The holiday season is not a happy time for everyone. From illness to job loss, there are many reasons that make the season a lonely or stressful time. During the holiday season, pay extra attention to cues all around you: Who can you reach out to? Where are you being drawn?
Four ways to make a difference this holiday season
- The Power of the Pen
Take time to send cards to people who have been instrumental to you in your life. Your parents, a professor, former boss, friend. It can be a holiday card, birthday card, card of encouragement, or a “Just Because” card.
- Share YOUR Gifts
At different points of your life, you have time, talent and treasure. Do you have enough? Our 8th grade teacher, Sister Theresita, taught us that we give from our excess, not from our need. During this holiday season, be mindful that there are so many people who could use your assistance. We have many nonprofits in Newport, RI and beyond who are helping our neighbors in need. They know where the need is. It feels so good to give—and even better when you don’t talk about it. Sister Theresita also stressed the importance of giving without proclaiming to the whole world how great you are for doing so.
- Give the gift of time
Volunteering is a gift you offer of yourself. Be aware of opportunities to help others. Call or stop by a local nonprofit and ask what they really need at the moment. Visit with a friend or someone who is ill or housebound. Listen. The gift of your time can be the best gift of all.
- Who are YOUR Starfish?
One of my favorite stories is the Story of the Starfish. The story features a young boy walking on a beach littered with thousands of starfish, washed up on the shore following a storm. He relentlessly picks up the starfish as fast as he can, throwing them back into the ocean. An older man walks and scoffs at the young boy, asking him why he bothers to throw any of the starfish back in the ocean. In fact, the older man expounds that it will not make a difference as there are too many. The young man, standing his ground, tosses another starfish in the ocean and replies: “Well sir, it certainly made a difference to the one I just threw back.” Focus on how YOU can make a difference, EVERY DAY, in the lives of others—one at a time.
- The Power of the Pen
- The holidays offer us a time to celebrate with friends and family. They also offer an opportunity to reach out and make another life a bit easier. Embrace the opportunity to impact the lives of others. When you make a positive difference in the life of another person, it will significantly impact your life as well.
Gail Lowney Alofsin is the Director of Corporate Partnership & Community Relations for Newport Harbor Corporation/Newport Restaurant Group. An adjunct professor at the University of RI and Salve Regina University, author, speaker and volunteer, Gail lives in Newport, Rhode Island. To date, 100% of the sales of her book, Your Someday is NOW! What Are YOU Waiting For? have raised over $42,000 for nonprofit organizations. She can be reached at 401-640-4418 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Gail on Twitter – @gailalofsin.