The Joy Of Giving Back During This And Every Season
Giving back is such an important thing in life to me. Mainly because I have been a recipient so many different times that I cannot imagine not reaching out a hand to those in need. For me, giving back started at home. I watched my family support one another. My mother was born into a family of seven brothers and sisters. When someone moved, the family moved them. My uncles rented the truck and moved the furniture. My aunts packed the boxes, cleaned the kitchen and bathroom and made sure there was food to eat and food left over until the family was settled. I never experienced a family member hiring a "moving company," and i never hired one myself until I was an adult and we moved our offices.
When I was a kid, my Gramps picked me up from school and walked me home to help my mom. When my mother was ill and had to be hospitalized at 23, my brother Philip and I lived with Aunt Syl and Uncle Robbie. No questions asked. It is how it was done. I watched this reciprocity go on all around me, and it stuck. I don't know another way to be.
When Mommy had six new children to clothe and feed, she used to shop at a church and leave with bags of clothes, good clothes, that she could get for a $5 or $10 donation. When I had my own babies, Mommy would get bags of clothes for me, and it made her feel good to spoil her grand babies, in her way and in a way she could afford. I ALWAYS donate old clothes to the church because I know there is someone else out there like my mom who really needs to be able to give and this way they get to give twice, to the church and to the person to whom they are giving the clothing.
Being the mother of three school-age children, I am more than aware and active in giving back during the holidays. It starts off with the penny driver for UNICEF during Halloween, then the Turkey Trot race at the boy's school the week of Thanksgiving where we raise money and make donations to get our company logo on the T-shirts. This is followed by can (food) drives, clothing drives and coat drives that occur at the schools. Each grade having their own project. This year we are working on some activities for our office to "give back" as well. We just had a successful fund raiser for Breast Cancer Awareness.
During Christmas my mother baked for everyone. There wasn't a person on the block who did not get a cake, a pie or some cookies from Carol at Christmas or for New Year's Eve. Our kitchen would look like a bakery. I try to match her efforts and I truly do feel more joy from the baking and the giving and I feel like I am teaching my children what my mom taught me.
Currently I am a part of the Clinton Global Initiative, and I mentor a spa owner in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I am also on the board of the Compound Foundation, which works to help children who are in the foster care system so that they are better prepared for life once they age out of the system. And, I serve on the National Women's Business Council, which is an advisory board that advises the President, Congress and the SBA on the needs of women-owned business.
My husband and I have always encouraged our children to donate their toys and clothes to the church or to family members younger than them that may be able to have fun with a toy that is too young for them. We always remind them that they are blessed and they are obligated to give back to others. Becca is only 6, but even she understands what she has to do with her clothes when they get too small for her.
Most importantly, I try to teach through example. That is how I learned from my family. So far I think I am doing a good job. When Forrest was in third grade one of his classmates was injured at school and Forrest walked him home after school. Now mind you I was freaking out because I did not know where my child was, this was long before he had a cell phone. But the other child's parent called me to let me know how wonderful my child was and that he was safe. And, as recent as a few days ago, after Hurricane Sandy left Brooklyn, Ennis felt compelled to ride his bike to his friend's house to make sure he was okay. He wasn't answering his phone and he wasn't on Facebook and Ennis was worried. He had even packed some provisions in his backpack. His friend was fine and yeah, I guess I have some great kids, if I do say so myself. :)
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