This blog post is dedicated to Lacy. We’ve known each other since high school and I’ve always enjoyed her sincerity, humor, and salt-of-the-earth honesty. We haven’t seen each other in years but with our West Potomac HS Class of ’98 twenty-year reunion right around the corner, I hope we can share some laughs in person soon! Lacy requested 20 ways our kids can make a difference. Here at Dwellus, we put our heads together and came up with the list below.
• Own a pet. Learn to take care of another being.
• Garden. Relax in nature and learn how to grow your own food and limit your carbon footprint.
• Volunteer. When you see a sign-up sheet, throw your name on it. Commit to a cause outside of yourself.
• Mentor someone younger. Be a reading buddy, swimming buddy, just a buddy.
• Visit the lonely, elderly, infirm.
• Write a letter. It’s amazing how a letter or postcard can brighten someone’s day.
• Random acts of kindness. It means the world to someone else and makes your own heart grow and grow.
• Join an organization that is involved in service on a consistent basis. Commit to serving others. Carve out the time.
• Find your nearest shelter for homeless or hungry neighbors and find out how to help.
• Clean your room. Show respect for the things you’ve been given and their value to you will grow.
• Lemonade Stand for charity. Choose a cause and raise some money!
• Give something to someone with an expectation of nothing in return.
• Do the dishes. Take out the trash. Helping your family is one of the first ways you learn to help others.
• Show compassion first. Before reacting, before judging, take a deep breath and walk in someone else’s shoes.
• Mindset lead. Know that if you fail one time, you’ll succeed another time. If you make a mistake, you can learn from it. Just keep trying and trying. PERSIST WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
• Slow down and be aware. How will you know who needs help if you are moving too fast (or looking at your phone)?
• Learn to donate money as soon as you are earning a steady allowance. Start by taking a dollar with you to the grocery store around Christmas and dropping it in the Salvation Army bucket. Your heart will expand.
• Know that you can make a difference. Empower yourself to lead. If you pass up a chance to make a difference you can assume that everyone else will too. And then nothing will change. Be the change.
• Read about people who made a difference. Learn what they did. Use their playbook.
• Ask people – peers, teachers, other adults – “How are you doing?” It elicits a different response than “What’s up?”
• Host a party and ask your friends to bring supplies or canned goods and then donate them. Every year our group of friends hosts “Cookies for a Cause” around Christmas time. The kids all decorate cookies and everyone who attends brings items from a list of needed supplies provided by the local homeless shelter.
• Encourage your friends and classmates. It’s easy to go for the quick joke and poke fun of someone, even if they’ve succeeded. Make it a practice to congratulate or encourage someone, with sincerity. Even the smartest kid in class or fastest kid on the soccer team could be feeling sad, you just never know.
• Say “thank you” as many times a day as you need to.
My last thought is to love people. It’s advice my brother gave me in a letter he wrote to me the day I graduated from college in 2002. He took the time to write me an almost two-page letter about how he believed in me and the lessons he had learned in two short years after graduating from college and forging his independence. It’s a note I turn to often. Just love people. The people who look different and act different and believe in different things. You don’t have to agree with them to love them.
Hey, look at that. My brother took the time to write a note to someone who needed it and he gave advice that I turn to regularly. He can be proud of the contribution he made, I can feel good that he cared about me, and I can share that love with anyone who walks through the door.