I attended a beautiful event last night called Rays of Change 2018 – an annual charity gala hosted by Amaanah Refugee Services in Houston. If you aren’t familiar with this organization their mission is to integrate resettled refugees in Texas into their new homes and communities through various targeted programs which enable them be confident and successful. This is above and beyond just providing financial assistance – it’s almost more like life-coaching. It’s a much needed service in this area, and the event was filled with lots of interesting information on all the amazing programs they’re working on right now. You can click on the link above for more information!
Anyway, hearing all the volunteers speak, the passion in their voices, the drive they were exhibiting, reminded me of a Naureen that I used to know.
Back when I was in high school and college, I was ALWAYS volunteering and doing things to give back to the community. I was never afraid of taking on entire projects from start to finish, nor did I ever let exams or anything else ever be an obstacle in making time for charity projects.
Fast forward to married life and three little kids. I sit at galas and clap for others’ hard work, while checking my phone every 5 minutes to make sure the littles are still doing okay with the babysitter. And sometimes, I even have to leave the gala early.
How times have changed.
As a mom of littles, I think you’re just so overworked – physically and emotionally – that volunteering seems like the farthest thing from your to do list. Sometimes it feels like a miracle I’m able to cook and feed my own family, let alone anyone else’s! And you feel really guilty about it. You start feeling like a bad person for being too absorbed in your own life. I know so many moms who echo these sentiments.
But your own life is SO demanding right now! Kids have a right over their parents to be cared for and looked after in their early years. We owe them this time of our lives to cater to their every need and to help them develop basic skills – from literally learning how to eat, to good sleeping habits, to walking and talking – you name it!
So just because you can’t go out physically and put in the blood, sweat and tears to make a difference in others’ lives, doesn’t mean you can’t still make a difference. A charitable person is labeled as such because of the softness and generosity in their hearts. How that altruism exhibits itself is different for different people and often depends on where you are in your life.
I have read and heard repeatedly that the early years of parenthood are the most draining – the ones where you really have to roll up your sleeves and get into the trenches knee deep. So it’s a wise decision to cut yourself a break in as many “other” areas as you can. Just raising the kids at this time, or balancing work and the kids at this time is more than enough of a contribution to society!
As long as the fire to make a difference is still alive in your heart; as long as you still CARE about those less fortunate than you, then you can still make a difference. Here’s how:
- The most obvious way is to financially support organizations and people who do the kind of work you’re interested in doing, or support the groups of people you want to support. They’re willing to do it – they just need some backing. So support them! However, sometimes when your tots are little, budgets can be a little more tight. Not to worry – there are still other ways to help!
- Actually, there is still a trick to being a beneficial financial donor on a tight budget. It’s by being consistent. If you sign up to donate even $10 a month, but that $10 is something the organization can depend on – it goes a long way. It’s manageable for you and a relief for them. Because this means someone believes in their cause and understands that there is a continuing need for support. And believe me, all these passionate people who are working hard every day to serve the underprivileged – they will find a way to put even the $10 to the best use! Your gift will ALWAYS be appreciated, no matter how small.
- Spread the word about initiatives happening in your communities – so that they have a better chance of raising the funds they need. Just because you can’t give, doesn’t mean you can’t find others who are very willing and ready to give!
- Recruit Volunteers. Just because you can’t make it out, doesn’t mean there are others who can’t. Many people often have the time or desire to volunteer, but don’t necessary know what all is out there. If you can keep a pulse on the projects going on in your city – you can help organizations find the volunteers they need to get things going.
- Donate items from your home. If you can’t give financially, you can still contribute by doing a little bit of spring cleaning! Most of us are fortunate enough to have lots of things in our home that are nice and hardly used. These like new items (or often even new items) can be better put to use in someone else’s bare household!
- Last but MOST definitely not least – Pray. Pray for those who are not as fortunate as you. I am a big believer that the power of prayer can change your destiny! So it most definitely could change someone else’s too. And better yet, praying sincerely for others makes your heart soft. And a soft heart will always find a way to help others.
So moral of the story – give what you can, however you can, when you can. Physical volunteering and/or donating money aren’t the only ways to help others in need. If you’re a parent of young ones, don’t beat yourself up if those are avenues you can’t take right now. If your heart is in the right place, you’ll find a way to help those in need in some shape or form. Be it now, or in a few years when you can put your life back together again. And at that point – you can take your not-so-littles-anymore to volunteer with you! Don’t give up!!