Monday, June 23, 2008

The Art of Giving


In February one of my co-workers was laid off. She is single and in her mid-50’s. It’s probably one of the worst times to be laid off in the construction industry and her status and age are not factors that will help her.

It is now the end of June. She has been out of work for 4 months now. She has been diligently looking for a job. Since she is the only person in her household, she needs to be able to make enough money to cover all of her expenses on her own. Many of the job opportunities out there are entry-level positions without much pay.

Unfortunately the money that she receives from unemployment each month does not cover her bills. She is now forced to dip into her retirement reserves, which is not good to do at her age.

She is a very proud and strong woman. She was a single mother who raised her daughter alone. She refuses to take “hand outs” from people who feel sorry for her.

Without a job for this long, I began to realize that now was probably the time that we should do something regardless of how she feels about taking something from us.
Last week I organized something at work in order for people to donate money or canned goods. By the end of the week, we had raised about $900 plus 4 big bags full of groceries! I was so surprised at the response that I had gotten!

Seeing a friend in need, knowing it’s the right thing to do, and previously being involved in philanthropic work really got me thinking that we needed to do something for her.

I stopped by her house on Friday after work. Cuong and I only live about 4-5 miles from her. I was only able to carry one bag of groceries (they were SO heavy!) and I made my way up to her door. I had told her earlier in the day that I found a few things in her desk that belong to her and I wanted to return them to her.

She had no idea what I was bringing up to her house.

I sat down with her and gave her the card that everyone signed. Inside the card were the $300 grocery gift cards and the remaining cash. As soon as she opened the card and saw everything, she burst into tears. She was totally overwhelmed and surprised. She expressed me that she didn't think anyone would ever do anything like that for her and that she's so grateful for having friends that still care about her.

I know that the grocery gift cards and extra cash will definitely help her.

I spent about 2 hours with her talking about her job search, talking about life in general and trying to brainstorm any other ideas of things she can do. Living alone and not having a high quality relationship with her daughter, it’s not often that she has someone to sit down and talk to.
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I try to take in as much wisdom as I can from other people. Although I wouldn’t say this person is the wisest person I know (they’ll remain nameless, hehe)…I remember learning that everyone needs human contact and someone to talk to every now and then. People, myself included, sometimes forget that the homeless person on the street is a human being too. There are some of them who are sane people and would love to sit down and talk to someone in a normal conversation and feel like they actually exist instead of being looked down on.
Life can definitely teach you how to be a better person, a better friend, etc. Through mistakes you’ve made and other people’s examples of compassion and true friendship, you can definitely see how you can be a good friend and live life a little less unselfishly.

1 comment:

Superwoman Scrapper said...

This makes me cry. This is exactly the kind of thing I have been feeling has been missing from my life. I'm just to busy to stop and feel. Feel good, feel useful, feel grateful. You are a wonderful person and wise beyond your years!