Tonight I spent part of my evening talking with someone about celebrities and corporations that donate their time and money to charities. We talked about IKEA’s solar powered shelter for refugees and Matt Damon’s efforts toward providing safe water and sanitation work with water.org. There are no shortage of people and companies that do amazing things in this world that we don’t always hear about, but you don’t need to be a celebrity or a multinational corporation to make a difference.
I will never be financially rich with the career path that I have chosen but I am fortunate that I find gratification in knowing that every single day I am at my job I have been a positive light in someone’s life that may have literally no one but me. Every day I go home knowing that I have made someone smile or provided some comfort in their life, and that to me is worth more than any paycheck I will ever bring home. With that said I lead a comfortable life. I have a phone. I have a tv. I have the internet. I have a warm and safe place to sleep. I have food in my cupboards. That is more than I can say for most of my clients and millions of people around the world.
I donate money to Movember, I donate money to food share in December, and I’ll even put money in the Salvation Army kettles in the mall. Is it enough? No, not really. I lead a comfortable enough life that I can enjoy small luxuries like dinners out and nice bottles of wine. I do these things knowing full well that somewhere in the world right now, someone is starving, someone is sleeping on the streets and someone is dying of a yet to be cured disease. That doesn’t mean I shouldnt enjoy my dinners out and my wine, of course I should. I deserve them. What it does mean is that I need to be more aware of others around me more often than November and December. Surely I can spare one bottle of wine a month to make a meaningful difference to society.
Then the decision is left with who should I support? There are thousands of agencies around the world that do fantastic work locally and abroad. Some agencies spend a ridiculous amount of their donation dollars on administration, you may want to do some investigative work on where your donation dollars are spent. www.moneysense.ca does a great review of the top 100 charities every year. You may want to choose a charity that is close to you personally. I considered this. My mother has schizophrenia and it had a huge effect on me during my teenage years. Unfortunately the media and movies like me myself and Irene cause false stigma and do nothing but further isolate individuals and families that are suffering. Maybe I should donate to the schizophrenia society? My grandfather was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This Christmas after spending the whole day with him, when I was leaving he came up to me and hugged me. He whispered to me “I’m sorry, I didn’t know who you were for most of the day”. I found his honesty touching but at the same time, it was a very sad moment for me. Should I donate to Alzheimer’s? I can’t tell you how many relatives have cancer, should I donate to that? I have family and friends families who have or who have had MS. That is a life and family altering disease. Should I donate to that? I love animals, often more than a lot of people I know. Should I donate to that? In the end, we can’t help everyone but helping someone is better than helping no one.
If you haven’t heard it before, the story of the starfish is fitting here:
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, ”Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
I decided for today I would donate my money to Habitat for Humanity Canada. The housing costs in Canada have risen dramatically over the past few years and the wait lists for subsidized housing gets longer and longer. Safe and affordable housing has become a crisis situation in our first world country. Habitat for Humanity brings the community together for a shared goal of improving the lives of a family in need. Today they get my money, maybe next month it will be someone else.
Thanks for reading. Today is Elvis’ birthday. Please celebrate accordingly.