We Can Do Something. Start By Thinking Small.

There is a lot of sadness and tragedy lately in the news. There’s always sadness and tragedy if you look for it, but lately it’s felt much too close. As a mother, I find it particularly difficult to process these kinds of events when children are involved. And I notice that as others try to process ‘what they can do’, their thoughts get caught up in the bigness of the issue. They get stuck in this kind of paralyzed pattern of thoughts that go something like ‘I don’t’ know how to help. What difference could I make? I don’t know where to begin.’

I’d like to propose that we get our thoughts focused on the fact that we can do something. That it’s the small gestures of kindness and generosity we are all capable of that create the kinds of communities we want our kids to grow up in. We are all individuals living in communities. Every individual act of kindness creates more good feelings and acts of kindness. Small gestures count.

About three years ago I heard about a mother who was transitioning from a women’s shelter to an apartment with her four children (two of which were newborn twins). I heard of this mother’s story quite by accident. I was selling some used baby toys on Kijiji. This women’s friend e-mailed in response to an infant bouncy chair I was selling. She wondered if I would drop it off because she didn’t have a car. Dropping it off wasn’t convenient. There were ten other e-mail responses from people who could pick it up. But I decided to go with my instinct and personally deliver the chair.

When I arrived at the apartment building, I was really taken aback. It was only twenty minutes from my own home but it might as well have been in a different country. It was really run down. Trying to hide my dismay, I asked the friend who met me at the entrance if I could bring back some extra toys and items that my children no longer used. Her response was elation. And then her next words kind of hit me in the heart. She said the children hadn’t played with toys since they moved from the shelter they had been staying at just a couple of weeks before. She said when the mother fled her home, they left everything behind.

As I shared this story with other moms I knew, my dining room quickly filled with donations of diapers, hand-me-downs, blankets, and clothes for the family. It was close to Christmas and my children’s daycare bought a large bag full of new toys for each of the four children which I dropped off Christmas Eve. My sister’s employer donated nearly $300 in grocery store gift cards, It was truly an overwhelming experience of how sharing a story of hardship channels so much good. I’m happy to say that just a year later the woman found a job in a different part of the province. And her employer allows the kids free childcare so she can have them close by. To me, this is an example of what happens when people come forward with small acts of kindness ─ it adds up to a community response.

Doug Melville, Chair of Breakfast for Learning, NS Chapter.

I recently joined an organization, 100 Women Who Care Halifax, who has this theory figured out. 100 Women Who Care Halifax was founded by Jennifer Salib Huber and Colette Robicheau with the goal of supporting local charities through 100 local women. The group comes together four times a year, votes on a shortlist of three randomly drawn charities, each member writes a cheque for $100 and hands the winning charity $10,000 at the end of the evening. And we did it! We had our first meeting in March 2013 and selected Bryony House as the recipient of the first donation. The other two finalists were The Brunswick Street Mission and Breakfast for Learning.

Giving money to these types of organizations so they can use the money where it’s most needed is one a way to build stronger communities. But the opportunities are everywhere. Charities like Bryony House now use social media to post requests for items they need. Schools always need help, even if it’s just spending an hour at lunch time. Stopping to talk to an elderly neighbor for a few minutes could just make their day.

We don’t have to get caught up in the bigness of things. Start by thinking small. You may be surprised at what one small act of kindness can achieve

100 Women Who Care Halifax contributed over $10,000 to Bryony House

To have the next blog post delivered to your Inbox, subscribe here:

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Twitter-icon Linked-In-icon