“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”  This quote by Mary Anne Radmacher caught my eye. It speaks of resilience and hardiness (an old-fashioned term, to be sure).  It speaks of spirit.

It applies to many of the people in my circle. The people I work with everyday who serve others. Who do it without fanfare. Who don’t give up. Who come back each day to try again. It also represents the people we serve. Our neighbors who sometimes need a helping hand and are not to be pitied or judged, as our culture often tells us, just because they haven’t pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.

Radmacher’s quote also represents donors, especially those donors who give sacrificially. People who choose not to do something for themselves so that they can help others. This includes people who are generous with their time. The gift of time is precious, and the impact that volunteers have on an organization can be significant, freeing up resources or bringing knowledge that might not be otherwise accessible.      

The first employee workplace need-based campaign I participated in taught me something: that the people who made the least amount of money had the highest participation rates. They stood closest to the problems of poverty and were therefore the most likely to give.  They knew how fragile the link to financial security actually was.

We have donors who tell us, “I was hungry as a child. That is why I give.” These donors make it a point to give back, especially if they have the means to do so. Others say, “no child should ever be hungry.” They give out of an inherent belief that people should not suffer.

I know that giving makes us feel good. Is that selfish? To feel good about an act that perhaps should be altruistic, representing a selfless concern for the well-being of others? I say there is nothing wrong with feeling good about a good deed. I believe it helps build a more meaningful life.

I also believe that people who have been blessed with opportunity have a responsibility to help others so that our human community can thrive.  Communities can be big or small, close or far away.  When you’ve touched someone’s life in a positive way, either directly or indirectly, you feel connected. You create community.

I am also pretty sure that helping others whether it’s through supporting people, the environment, social causes, the arts – is contagious and can create a ripple effect. My hope is that we can grow the ripple effect. Along those lines, there are many ways to encourage giving and volunteerism in ourselves and in our social circles: 

  • Ask people what organizations they support. Thank them for giving.
  • Volunteer with a friend. See what motivates them.
  • Ask your children to participate in giving conversations. Let them nominate a cause.
  • Practice a random act of kindness and don’t tell anyone. Practice a random act of kindness and tell someone.
  • Live the expression, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” Remember not to judge too quickly. 
  • Don’t wait for a charity to ask you to give. Just give.

Together, we can make the world a better place through everyday acts of kindness, conversation and giving.  It just takes courage, the kind of courage we can choose to live with – and give with – every day.