I don't always follow my heart. In college I was introduced to a community of giving. The Catholic school I attended had a strong Peace and Justice community that traveled around the world to improve lives. I would watch how they would go to the middle of Tennessee and help a family who didn't have running water or go to Haiti and help people who were being ignored by a corrupt government. They did something I admire.
When I was out of college, and traveled a bit I knew I needed to participate in my community. Upon my return, I volunteered at the AIDS Project of Central Iowa, donated money to the Matthew Shephard Scholarship program, and helped with the Relay For Life. I loved the work. Then I went to Belize. One of my best friends was working for a foundation to help rejuvenate a third world prison into a rehabilitation facility. They not only 'wired' the site, but also started a program that taught prisoners how to use computers, set up networks, code websites, and ultimately skills they could use outside the walls. Fights, attacks, and murders behind prison walls have decreased significantly. He did something I admire.
I met Mark Thessing when I was in Belize. He works for Hand in Hand Ministries to provide services the government and private business in Belize cannot afford. He helps kids go to school with scholarships, provides the only day care for kids affected by HIV/AIDS, and builds homes for those in desperate need. He is doing something I admire.
My good friends Chad and Michelle have a very comfortable life. They have a nice house, superb family, and a strong community of friends. Each year they give time to many different organizations. They have helped their church raise 1 million pounds of food for the hungry, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, and spent hours on mission trips to Mexico helping our friends across the border. They do things I admire.
On of the unique radio programs I love on Sirius is Derek and Romaine. Although they have a raunchy show, both have provided so much to the gay community. Romaine was a friend of Matthew Shephard and developed the Angel Action network of peaceful protests to promoted peace and understanding. Derek travels all over the country being a host of PRIDE and other events. They do things I admire.
Today, I want to give more. My heart is full of love and knowledge that I don't share with many others. I have been fortunate to travel on many parts of the globe and see they way the world works. I need to turn this into something more special. In the last two years I have made strides to give more. I have begun a policy of 'One in, One out.' If I receive a gift or buy something I have to give or donate on other item. It has worked well. My closets are empty of unneeded items, and my friends and family love what they have received. I am planning to do more. I am looking forward to future travel, and showing the people in my world what happens thousands of miles away, and how it can enrich their lives.
Giving has been on my brain all day. Last night, when listening to Derek and Romaine a man from Global Colors, Barton, was on to talk about his organization. He started the group after a decade of travel, study, and observation all over the world. He sacrificed his beloved car to get the organization off the ground. The projects aren't huge, but create so much wealth in the communities they help. It reminded me of my time in Belize. On the first trip, I felt so bad for the people that lived there. I was quickly informed that they know nothing different, and love their lives just like we do in America. I occurred to me that the way to help wasn't to feel sorry for them but work to make small improvements in their lives. On my last trip to Belize I went to help a group of nuns build a small home for a family. I didn't meet the family, but asked the project leaders if I could see a finished house. We drove through a ghetto, and found one of the homes. A woman and her small daughter were able to talk to us. You could see their soul through their eyes. There had been much pain, but now they were doing just fine. I felt so good about my small contribution to the community.
I am so thankful I have a family and friends that contribute to the world, in a positive way. I hope my future contributions will create a more beautiful soul for the world.