December 11, 2020 – Trying to save the world (PART FIVE)

I’m back! And it looks like I lost a few of you after part three. That’s ok. I know my latest posts have resembled ‘lectures’ so I get it. I don’t like getting lectured to either. It isn’t easy trying to ‘spread the word’ without coming off like a professor giving a lecture in class or a pastor giving a sermon. Or it could be I used the word ‘think’ excessively. I just reread my first paragraph from part four and I’m pretty sure I used it at least five times. Not good! It might be time to pull out the old Thesaurus. Anyway, today I’m going to talk about things each of us can do within our own communities (and elsewhere). And it comes down to what you’re willing to give, time or money. There are so many places and opportunities that many of us aren’t even aware of because most of us spend the majority of our time at home or at work or at the grocery store. But before I start to go into greater detail, I think it’s important that you think about (caught it this time!) contemplate what it is you enjoy doing. Do you like to work with animals? Do you enjoy being around babies or kids? What about helping out the less fortunate? Or working with seniors?

Determining where you ‘fit’ is key. If you try to lend a hand somewhere that isn’t a good fit, the likelihood of you enjoying what you do or sticking around for the long haul is pretty unlikely. Personally, I like kids, but I also know I can only handle them in small doses. I also know I have no tolerance for screaming or crying or whining. Working with a big group of children puts me into sensory overload, which is not a good thing. I know this to be true so I won’t put myself into that type of situation again. If I could exclusively work with one child that could use some extra support, I believe that might be possible as well as fulfilling (for me as well as he or she). We’ll see. I have worked twice in my lifetime with large groups of children. The first time was as a home daycare provider. I lasted about 3-4 months and then had a nervous breakdown. The second time I worked as a substitute teacher’s assistant at an elementary school for just over $6 an hour. The position on that particular day was to assist with the kids that had challenges and they assigned me exclusively to work with a girl that had Down’s syndrome.

She did the opposite of everything I asked her to do and some way, somehow found every button to push. I didn’t even know I had some of those buttons! I’d ask her to sit in a chair and she’d lay on the floor or climb on a table. During story time, she sat on her haunches in the middle of the group. And at some point during the story when the teacher was mid-sentence, she leaned forward, raised her bottom in the air and farted loudly. She then proceeded to say ‘fart’ every few minutes and get everyone all stirred up. Would she hold my hand? No. Did she ever listen? Absolutely not! Did I come back after that day? Hell no!! That girl broke me. And since I’m on the subject, we’ve got to pay the people that work around children more money. They really are saints. I lasted one day and that was all I could take. I don’t know how people do it! Oddly enough, I love being around seniors. They are a fount of wisdom and from what I can tell, they enjoy my company, too. Nearly every experience I’ve had with seniors has been uplifting, with only a couple of exceptions.

Sorry, back down the rabbit hole! Where was I? Yes! Determine what you love to do or who you love to be around and you’ll be amazed at all of the opportunities you’ll find that will make a difference. Do you love animals? Nearly every town has an animal shelter. They always need volunteers! The shelters are stressful environments, so if you have the time to give, you may not be rewarded with money, but you’ll be rewarded with tail wags, wet kisses, loud purrs and gentle headbutts. Foster parents for pets are also in high demand. Like to work with your hands and don’t mind a little physical labor? Many towns have trail systems or parks that need constant upkeep. Or if you don’t mind picking up litter, you can always ‘adopt a street’ or ‘adopt a highway’. If you love to work with people, there are dozens of volunteer organizations that would snatch you up in a heartbeat! For seniors, they need people to deliver free meals or even to simply provide companionship. At senior centers, volunteers can help with teaching classes, assisting with events, or providing general support. Volunteers are the life blood of most senior centers!

Like to work with babies? Most hospitals have programs where you can come in and comfort them after they’re born. Love kids? There are so many organizations that could use your help! Between the YMCA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, CASA, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and all of the rest, I am sure you’ll find something suitable. There is also the option of becoming a foster parent. There are so many kids that need a stable family environment. I’ve thought about it more than once but have never pulled the trigger. As much as I want to do it, it’s a huge responsibility to take on. And I’ve already raised three teenagers. If I had to try and ‘raise’ another teenager, I might go to an early grave. Another group of folks that are also in need of a helping hand are the homeless. Whether it’s working in a soup kitchen, packing boxes of food for distribution, performing general office work, organizing a food or clothing drive or teaching a homeless individual a skill, it all matters. But what if you don’t have the time to volunteer, let alone get a good night’s sleep, because you’re too busy dealing with all of life’s other demands?

That’s where the almighty dollar comes in! I can assure you, no one is going to refuse your money. Having people volunteer in order to provide support is crucial but so is getting adequate financial support. You can have thousands of volunteers, but if your building needs a new roof, you’re going to need money to hire a contractor or at the very least to purchase the necessary supplies. And all of the places that I mentioned earlier, homeless shelters, food banks, senior centers, animal shelters, children’s organizations, they can all use your financial support. And PBS would love it, too. I caution you, however. If you donate to PBS, you’ll never hear the end of them. They will haunt you to the end of your days! The great thing about money is that it’s something that can reach anyone. There aren’t limits imposed as there are with volunteer opportunities where your physical presence is required. Money can be used to help organizations inside as well as outside your community. The sky’s the limit! If you need any ideas, just turn on your TV set.

If the shivering dog chained to a fence doesn’t get you to pull out your billfold (ASPCA), maybe the starving children playing in raw sewage will convince you (Save the Children). The hardest thing is knowing which one(s) to pick. There are groups dedicated to causes which include animal rights (WildAid, Animal Welfare Institute), the environment (Rainforest Trust, Environmental Defense Fund), disaster relief (Direct Relief, AmeriCares), suicide prevention (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Mental Health America), ending hunger (Action Against Hunger, No Kid Hungry), refugees and immigration (Refugees International, The International Rescue Committee), medical aid (Doctors without Borders, World Medical Relief), racial justice and civil rights (Equal Justice Initiative, International Women’s Health Coalition) and veterans (Homes For Our Troops, Wounded Warriors Family Support). Don’t know which one(s) to pick? Follow your heart! It’ll usually lead you in the right direction.

My goodness. I have to say, I think I’ve ‘hit the wall’ as far as having anything further to say about ‘trying to save the world’. I know there are so many things I haven’t touched on, but I believe it’s time for another topic. This topic is important, but it’s heavy and I feel like I need to shift gears. I wanted to tackle more stuff, such as how we can learn to tolerate and appreciate differences in others, but it’d likely require another 5 days of my effort. And I just don’t have it in me. If I try to continue, I think my brain is going to short out and then I’m going to be in a world of hurt! That said, I am going to bid you farewell. I hope you enjoyed all I had to share about ‘trying to save the world’. Tomorrow, I promise to provide something that will hopefully give you some comic relief. Of all the things we really need right now, we could all use a good laugh! That’s my two-cents anyway. Alright, better go. Much love! See you soon!!

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