Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Make some time for giving back.....

     As I contemplate the impending end of this blog at the close of this year, I want to make sure that I've hit the high points and since the blog will live beyond me on the Internet and possibly in written form, this will become some lasting advice to my children and any of their future offspring.  This morning I talk about a topic of utmost importance to my family and that is the obligation to give back.  

     My children were all taught this lesson both by word and deed, because we were taught this lesson first. For us, it was never an option not to get involved in our community,church, civic and school organizations
and to make the best use of our God-given talents, it was our duty to.  My father worked 2-3 jobs for most of his life and supported 12 children through his efforts.  He could have easily sat idle for those few hours each day that he got to himself, but he didn't.  He pitched in, and gave back.  If it wasn't doing pro bono electrical and plumbing work for families in need, it was helping his church set up for their festival, or calling the bingo numbers at the local Knights of Columbus hall.  He made marinades and flipped chickens at BBQ fundraisers and whenever asked to help, he answered yes, if he possibly could.  My mother did the same.  Aside from raising the 12 of us, she volunteered at the church, she counseled pregnant women at the Birthright Center, she participated in Mother's Circle and shared her child rearing secrets with the ladies there.   They both set a powerful example to their children, that no matter how busy you were, there should always be time dedicated to giving back and to making the world a better place.

     The next generation carried the torch too.  My children's aunts and uncles (on both sides of your family) have joined the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, the Sons of the American Legion, Sports and Drama Boosters and
scores of other civic organizations.  They've coached teams and led Boy and Girl Scout Troops.  An aunt of theirs continues in her mother's footsteps and is on the board of a pregnancy center and another participates with the Big Sister program.  A few of their uncles volunteer to serve Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at a local Salvation Army and another of their uncles has been known to donate his labor doing electrical work for the indigent, reminding me of my father, and he's not even on that side of my family.  Not all the work is with an organization, some of it is just one person helping another, like my sister who makes casseroles and such for funerals of deceased neighbors.  Another donates the proceeds from an auction she has at her annual pig roast to different charities, and when her area experienced some major flooding, she was one of the first to pitch in and one of the last to stop helping.  I have a sister who is not fond of crowds  but has volunteered for the St Vincent de Paul Society sorting clothes for the needy.  A brother of mine is a local volunteer fireman, and he donates some of his catering time each year to the needy.  Another brother and his wife work the local tomato festival where they live and that's in addition to all the work they did for drama clubs and schools.  Every one of my siblings and a lot of my wife's too, donate time and money to our charity golf tournament each year.  I'm sure I could fill 2 more paragraphs with more specifics but I think you get the point, my children and their cousins are surrounded by great examples of how one should use their talents to improve their community.  It's becoming their time to pick up the mantle now.

     I'll admit some worry on whether this next generation will be able to match the generosity and charitable works of the previous ones.  I think they were all raised in a time where "attention to me" became the mantra that

was taught and we rewarded attempts at the same level as successes, which cannot be a healthy combination.  They face more problems than my generation did, a crushing US debt load, rising college costs and shrinking job markets, and increased competition for those jobs on a global scale now.  They would have a lot of excuses to not pitch in, and that worries me somewhat. I worry too that they may choose to work in fields where the needy are helped, but stop there short of doing additional work.  That would be a shame because it's never the same being paid to perform as it is to do it without compensation.  A job, no matter how noble, has a tendency to become just the means to a paycheck.  Volunteers, however, choose each day to go out and do, or sometimes not.  I'll close with a challenge to this new generation, to rise above the toils and turmoil that we left you with and pitch in to make it a better place.  You are going to need to give something back, in order to see improvement in your communities, and after all your parents set the example for you already. 

1 comment:

Kristin said...

No need to worry, our parents set us a great example. While it is difficult to find time to volunteer and do things for others, our generation really is at a peak of giving.

I volunteer at local theatres (everything from Assistant Directing to Acting to costume and prop help). Even though this is something I love to do, that great feeling comes from hearing parents who normally couldn't afford to take their kids to professional shows. Columbus Children's Theatre even does a free matinee for inner-city students and has a sign-language interpreter at most shows.

In college, I was our Sorority's Service/Volunteer chair, which means that I organized our Relay for Life team, had our girls volunteer playing games with kids at a local Halloween party, cleaned out our house and donated all of our extras to a local shelter (we even got to meet some homeless folks that were very grateful of our furniture donations).

Not only were my parents a volunteer inspiration (they seem to find ways to help everyone they know), but the girls in my sorority surprised me more than anything. Some were passionate about women's safety, so they organized women's defense classes that still happen monthly. Some of them found ways to spread the news about safe sex by handing out free condoms to everyone they saw. We even "adopted" a child from Nicaragua, who we send gifts and money to every month. She sends us letters back (which someone translates for us), as well as photos.

Others at my school go on mission trips across the world to help others. Some volunteer at the local food pantry we have (our Greek organizations give them over 200lbs of food every year!). Many of these events are the "cool" thing to do at school and, while they're a ton of fun, also raise a global perspective in youth. I'm really glad that my college instills a value of service learning; though most service events are not required, most of the school shows up anyway.

I do agree that our generation is stuck in a very "ME ME ME" brain thought, but there are huge parts of my generation that are thinking about more than just themselves on a daily basis. I'd like to chalk that up to my parents, but also to others my age that are inspired by service to others.