There is lots of asking going on in December and lots of giving. It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of it all. It can be overwhelming. It can be stressful. As we go into December, I wanted to spend a little time stepping back and thinking about what happens in December and to encourage anyone who reads this to take this opportunity to be “present” in your giving.
I will start with why I give. I can’t help it. I can never give enough. I know how blessed I am and I can’t enjoy it as long as I know there are people around me who are in need. Many of you know I grew up in poverty. I know what it’s like to be hungry, to be cold, to be ashamed of how I looked, where I lived. I know what it feels like to hope your mother forgets your birthday so she won’t feel bad there are no presents, no cake. I know what it’s like to see your mother worry about how she was going to manage. I can imagine how hard it was for her to ask for help; how embarrassing it was.
I remember wondering as a child, “Why doesn’t someone help us?” There are lots of mothers and fathers and children in our communities who are asking that question every day.
I also know what a difference it makes when you give someone an opportunity. How you can change the cycle of poverty when you work with individuals and families as part of a comprehensive system of integrated supports. That’s why I love what I do. I know that when I give, I am changing lives. I know I bring hope and make people feel loved and valued. It doesn’t matter if I am buying lunch for someone at Tim Horton’s, serving coffee to the guys on Cash Corner, or making my donation to United Way. I know that when I look into the eyes of another woman or man, or into the face of a child; when I hug a stranger as I wander the streets looking for someone who will take my two bags of recycling each week, I know I am giving more than money. I am giving dignity and hope the way someone once gave it to me.
We are lucky to be able to give. It is privilege to help others. Calgarians really get that. I love this city!