There are numerous wonderful charities in the world. I get mail on almost a daily basis with return address stickers, notepads and information about their organizations. It is not possible to fund them all and I will never use that many return address labels in the rest of my lifetime. How do you choose who to help?
I choose to be selective to the ones that have personal meaning to me. I pick organizations that fund and research medical problems that members of my family are suffering from and send a budgeted amount of money to them. Finding money to budget can be challenging. You can give money directly or fundraise for the charity of your choice. Doing odd jobs or sell crafts, meals and baked goods to earn money to donate is always an option.
You can choose to rotate your charities. If you gave generously to one charity this year, maybe pick a different charity or organization for next year. Also consider giving a little money to many different charities.
If money is not in your budget to donate, there are other ways to support charities. You can volunteer for their organization and volunteer at their events. Your local hospitals, shelters, food banks or hospice centers are always looking for volunteers. Advertising events via email, social media and posters in your neighborhood and work area (when permitted) is a great contribution to charities. Donating gently used items to your local charities and making meals for low income families in your area are also great ways to be charitable.
You can coordinate a fundraiser and recruit others to help you. For example, I live in a very large neighborhood. This fall, I am putting together a group to collect non-perishable food items to donate to our local food bank for Thanksgiving. This winter, I plan to use the same group to gather winter clothing and boots for our local shelter. The only thing this will cost me is time, but minimal time with a big impact when I recruit others to help.
However you choose to help, please choose to help!
This week, I have made an effort to do a daily good deed. In general, I am a good person, and help others as much as I can. I work in healthcare, helping people is what I do for a career, but this time I consciously thought about what good deed I did by the end of each day. Surprisingly, I made me feel a lot better about myself.
Good deeds benefit both the recipient and the provider. Often when someone is the recipient of a good deed, they in turn provide a good deed for someone else. Imagine this great big, helpful world of people!
Good deeds can be quick or long term, free or expensive depending on your ability. Good deeds can be for strangers or people you know well. Obviously the more we can do good deeds for others, the better world we will all live in.
Here are some ideas:
· Make a double batch of a meal and deliver it to an elderly neighbor or neighbor with a new baby
· Volunteer your time at a local shelter (human or pet)
· Buy coffee or food for the next person in line
· Allow someone to go ahead of you (in line at a store or merging on a highway)
· Donate to a local charity (food bank, animal shelter, medical center, emergency services)
· Give a friend a break and take their children for a fun day
· Buy a bouquet of flowers, put a note on them that says “just to brighten your day” and leave them at a random house in your neighborhood
· Donate blood
· Volunteer at your local hospital
· Bake a large batch of cookies and deliver to your local fire or EMS department
· Donate gently used clothing and household goods to your local shelter (preferably a not for profit organization)
· Help an elderly neighbor by mowing their lawn or weeding their flower beds
· Help someone who is lost, if you can manage the time, take them to their destination rather than giving directions
· Write a note to a friend that is single and send it in the mail
· Buy a “just because” gift for a friend that has been going through a rough time
· Help your parents with a good house cleaning
· Offer to pick up food (take out or grocery store) when you are going for a neighbor
Everyone could use a good deed, just pay attention to their needs and help when you can!
Often when families welcome a new baby into the home, they are overwhelmed by visitors stopping in to see the baby with gifts within the first couple of weeks. But soon they are on their own. Dads go back to work and Mom is at home with a new baby and frequently with a toddler or two. Here are some ways to be a helpful friend!
· Visit! When mom is home by herself for days with only an infant to talk to, they long for adult communication! If you can’t visit, give them a call or a text to let them know you are thinking about them.
· Help! Offer to watch the child while she takes a nice long hot shower or a nap. Do a couple loads of laundry. Fill the dishwasher. Run a vacuum. A little bit goes a long way!
· Feed! While you are visiting, bring lunch with you. Moms do not often prepare healthy meals for themselves. It is also extremely helpful to bring a couple of prepared dishes that only need to be put in the oven for dinners. Further, while you are out gathering your groceries, pick up some essentials for your new Mom friend.
· Pet Care! Unfortunately the family pet may be feeling neglected. Give the family pet some much needed attention, go for a walk, clean-up the pen or yard.
· Photograph! Families with new babies are often exhausted and forget to take a bunch of pictures. Often moms are the ones taking the pictures, so they are rarely in them. Take pictures of the baby, siblings, mom and dad and if possible, the whole family. Share them with the new mom in electronic format and have your favorite printed and framed for her.
· Babysit! There is nothing like being a prisoner in your own home. New parents are often afraid to leave their little one behind or too proud to ask for help. Schedule an evening to watch the kids for a few hours while new mom and dad get a chance to go out and reconnect.
· Pamper! Surprise new mom with a little bit of pampering. At this point usually a hot, uninterrupted shower is all they long for, but go one step further and make them a hair appointment with their usual stylist, book a 1 hour massage or schedule a mani-pedi for her. She deserves it!
Give your new mom friends a much needed hand at the time they need it most! They will appreciate it and one day return the favor!
I've written about volunteering before. It's a great way to give back to the community. It also takes your mind off of your own problems and gives you a fresh perspective on life. There are many volunteer opportunities in your community. Some are as simple as giving money or stuffing envelopes for an hour. Others require much more time and emotion. One such "emotionally charged" volunteer opportunity is helping out at your local hospice.
Hospice is a medical organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with a terminal illness. Its primary goal is to provide comfort care and resources to make this last stage of life as painless as possible. That includes sending in doctors, nurses, home health aids, and volunteers to assist the patient and the family.
Volunteers can take on many roles with hospice. They can sit with the patient, read to them, pray with them, and do crafts. They can provide respite for family members who need to get out of the house or take a nap. Volunteers can do shopping, light housekeeping, and even drive patients to appointments. Most importantly, they can sit with someone so that they don't have to die alone (if they don't want to).
I started volunteering for a local hospice agency 6 weeks ago. I have not regretted it for a single moment! People ask me how I can stand being around those who are dying. I don't look at it that way. Instead I see it as being around those who need some comfort, however small, before they move on to the next chapter of their lives.
It may seem like a silly word, but once you discover it, you will love it! Uber (EW-brr) is an on-demand car service offered in larger metropolitan areas using a smart phone. It uses a dispatch software to send the nearest driver to your location. If it is not currently in your area, it may be coming soon. Additionally, it is great for areas in which you travel. Uber contracts drivers who use their own vehicle, and the drivers work on whatever schedule they are available; a portion of their earnings are provided to Uber. When you request a car service through the app, you will be notified of who your driver is with a picture and what kind of vehicle they are driving.
One perk of using Uber is that you request a car using your smart phone. It will tell you exactly when your car will arrive and the route it is coming to you. No more waiting in bad weather to hail a taxi. No cash is exchanged between you and the driver. All transactions are completed via the credit card you put on file when you registered.
You can sign up for Uber on their website, or download the app to your smartphone. After you download then free app to your smart phone, you can sign in with your username and password. When you tap the app, it will have you choose the type of car service you want to pick you up. There are 5 types of car services, but not all are available in every area:
· Black Car – This is Uber’s original service. Choosing Black Car will send a high-end sedan to your location, with seating for up to 4 people.
· Taxi – This calls a taxi that has an agreement with Uber. These taxis are much like any normal taxi, except that you can pay through the app.
· UberX – This sends an everyday car to your location with seating for up to four people. This is Uber’s budget option.
· SUV – This will send an SUV to your location with seating for up to 6 people. This is significantly more expensive than the Black Car service.
· LUX – This will send a high-end luxury car to your location with seating for up to four people. This is Uber’s most expensive service.
The next step is to tap the map to show where you would like to be picked up, or enter the address into “pickup location” space. You then enter the address or name of your destination. The app will tell you how long until a driver is available and the estimated cost of travel.
Once you confirm your ride, you are sent a photo and name of driver and the type of vehicle. Your ride will arrive to pick you up and take you to your destination. If you change your mind and cancel after five minutes, you will be charged a fee. Once you reach your destination, you simply say “thank you” and get out of the car. All transactions are handled through the app, so no cash is necessary. There is no need to tip, although it is appreciated. If you use the taxi service, a 20% tip is automatically added, but can be changed in the billing section on the website.
My husband and I have used this service on many occasions in several different cities and have had no problems. We appreciate the convenience and service!
As a mental health advocate, I have always believed in the value of meditation and other mind-body techniques. I feel they can do wonders for our minds by shutting down the internal "chatter" and bringing us to a lovely state of peace.
Having said that, I am ashamed to admit that I never really looked into the power of prayer. I was raised Catholic but quit attending church as soon as I could. I never found the connection that others raved about. To me God was out there but too far away for me to truly grab onto.
And yet, many of my friends continued to tell me about their prayers and how much they helped. I did a bit of research and there is some scientific evidence to support their claims. It would appear that folks who pray tend to live longer, have richer social lives, have less worry and stress, and are better able to relax than those who do not pray. In the hospital, those who pray tend to have less pain, less complications, and are sent home sooner. Wow!
Whether or not you believe in a higher power, there is something very soothing about the repetition of prayer. It is similar to the mantras that many folks use when meditating. I also liked the fact that you could take your overwhelming problems and hand them over to someone else (God). What a wonderful feeling that must be, even if it's only for a short time! I decided to give it a try.
They say you gravitate back to your childhood and that was true for me. I decided to attend mass at the Catholic church where I do volunteer work. So far I have been there about 5 times. What I have learned is that it is a peaceful way to spend an hour. The sermons have more meaning to me as an adult and I enjoy the aesthetics of the building. I must admit, I also enjoy the people watching! The kids, in particular, always make me smile.
Have I found that true connection to God? Not really. Am I able to turn all my problems over with ease? Not yet. But I'm still hopeful. Meditation takes years of practice and I can only assume it is the same with prayer. The bottom line is finding peace and meaning in your life. Amen!
Volunteer work: many of us want to help. The problem is we either don't have the time or we don't know where to go. Soon our good intentions are forgotten and we're back to doing nothing.
It's time to change all of that! Did you know that volunteer work actually improves your health? Researchers have found that it does all of the following:
Add to that the obvious benefit of helping your community and you now have some wonderful motivation to get involved. This is important because when we're motivated to do something, we're more likely to find the time to do it.
So where do you go? You can start with your church or local community center. They often post when volunteers are needed. There are also some great websites that post volunteer jobs. One that I use quite often is www.volunteermatch.org. When you sign up on this site, it emails you when there are volunteer jobs in your area. You can even choose the types of activities you are willing to do.
That is particularly important in staying motivated. You don't want to sign up for a job that you will hate doing. Try to find volunteer activities that match your own particular skills and interests. For example, I love to write and sometimes type up the bulletin for my church. I am also a neat freak and enjoy organizing things. Therefore, I help out at the local soup kitchen by stocking food and arranging the shelves.
That reminds me, another great way to motivate yourself is to make it a family event. Sign up for an activity that the entire family can do and enjoy. My husband is strong and he sometimes comes with me to the soup kitchen. We use his muscles to lift all the heavy boxes and carry in the heavy beverage containers. It's something we can do together and talk about, which in turn makes us closer.
Volunteering is a wonderful thing you can do for yourself and the community. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start helping!!
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