How does one begin to explain what one does to impact others; reach out to others; to volunteer their time, their heart or just to treat others as they want to be treated; or had wanted to be treated at one time or another. For me, I have always been conscious of others feelings. I remember arguing as a child with my siblings and friends for calling someone in jest “a retard”! I would become so angry and tell them that they cannot help how they are and why do they make fun of someone that cannot defend themselves, a moot point as we were all children at the time, and we just do that, they were not trying to harm anyone. Telling everyone please and thank you, my mother used to get so mad at me when I said thank you and please. Mom always said that she was my mom and I did not have to thank her. I always felt like she needed to be thanked. She was always so tired and busy.

We all get so busy in our lives that we forget to open our eyes in our everyday routines to see that someone else may need a helping hand. I was walking out of the grocery store one day with my family and I noticed an elderly lady with a cane struggling to put her items in the trunk while holding on to the cart and her cane. So many others just walking by, I turned around and went over and asked if I could help her, she smiled and said thank you. I put her groceries in the car and closed her trunk, took her cart and let her get in her car. My family was looking for me and I told them that she was struggling and I needed to help her. Yes, she could have told me to mind my own business and I would have if she wanted me to, but it only took a minute to help her. I wonder how many times she struggles like that and if she has anyone that could come with her next time.

Things happen in your life that make you think outside of your box, this is also true in how you help and volunteer. My son was homeless due to choices he made in his life and choices I had to make for my other family members. Each day he was out there, I would pray “Lord, please take care of my son, in return I will help another”. The endless nights wondering if my son was alive, or had he eaten was more than I thought I could bear. I wondered where he was sleeping and if he hated me and was he crying and wondering what went wrong and why. A police officer that knew my son would let me know if he saw him and would ask him if he was ready for help. When he was ready, he helped me find my son and also to find some place to get him help. So it was time for me to do and I had promised God I would do if he helped me find my son. So now when I see someone that is homeless, I can’t always help, but when I can, I will feed them, or give them the change in my wallet or say a prayer for them. I go to the Bridge Homeless Shelter and serve food every second Sunday. I do the walks that support the homeless and hungry.

My son developed a brain disorder called “Schizophrenia”, came to find out that that this is something he may have had since birth and could have led to his drug use. Again, I reached out for help. NAMI helped me learn about my son’s illness and helped him learn about his illness. So that others do not suffer wondering what to do, I began a family support group to help families with loved ones that have a brain disorder. NAMI has given me the training I need to help others.

I live close to downtown and you see so many homeless people that it makes you want to cry every time you walk out your door. What happened to them, why are they homeless? I was driving down the street one day with my daughter in the car, I do not remember where we were off to, but I remember we had sack lunches. I saw a person with a sign that said “hungry, can you help”? I pulled up, rolled my window down and gave him my lunch. My daughter asked me, “what are you going to eat? I have food and shelter. I am a breast cancer survivor; I volunteer and run many runs that support breast cancer. I think I have helped my family by volunteering at their school doing safe environment, or helping with school functions, or making home visits. Who have I impacted? Who have my daughters impacted by volunteering? It has become part of my everyday life, it can be yours too! It can be as simple as smiling at someone that looks sad. Take the time to give someone a hug, that may be the only one they get. It is a beautiful thing! Who can you impact?

Challenge yourself to make a kind gesture. Do it daily and see how it changes you and those around you. It is part of our mission as Christians.