The news of Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut shook all of us. Whenever something like this happens, we’re reminded of the fragility of life. We realize perhaps we should appreciate one another more, take care of one another more, and pay attention to one another a little more. I read so many posts on Facebook and Twitter on Friday of people calling for prayers, asking how could something like this happen, asking WHY something like this could happen. And there was also a lot of anger.
These aren’t easy questions to answer and these aren’t easy feelings to deal with, but there is one thing we can all do: Help each other. Listen. Give back.
So, while we all think of the physical gifts we’d like to buy, let’s also take some time to think of the gifts we can all give and that can’t be assigned a monetary value. Here are five ways for you to give back:
- Mentor. There are so many youth in America who could use a little extra guidance and support from someone like you. You might not think you are right to be a mentor — “But I’ve made so many mistakes in my own life,” you might say. But all of us make mistakes, and we all learned something from it. Can you share that valuable lesson with others? Simply hearing how you made it through high school or college to become the fabulous Career Girl that you are can inspire a young girl. Join groups like Step Up Women’s Network and give back. Check out your college alumni programs as well — many of them offer mentoring opportunities. You can also reach out to that young woman in your company who is looking for some guidance.
- Teach. This goes hand in hand with mentoring in many ways. Volunteering your time to teach someone something — even if it’s a small task — can be invaluable. I recently got to know about a program called Citizen Schools. This program is an amazing opportunity to give back to the community by teaching youth about your job and passion.
- Support a cause with talents, time, or money. At election time this year, people were really riled up, declaring to the world what they believe via social media. Make sure you are supporting that belief with real effort, not just Facebook posts — you’ll feel a lot less helpless. Find an organization that supports what you believe in and donate. If you think government in general needs a lot of help, support government watchdogs like the Better Government Association.
- Express gratitude — daily. This is very small and simple, but a “Thank you,” to the people that help you every day can make a huge impact. Everyone likes to feel valued, and reminding someone of how appreciative you are affirms that value.
- Listen. Listen to others, and if you think someone needs help, try to get them the help they need. Sometimes, just sitting down and listening to someone on a bad day can make a huge difference in that person’s life. Try to listen for what other people need, rather than tuning them out.
Of course, a great way to accomplish all of these is to volunteer! Find an organization or nonprofit who needs your help and needs someone with your talents. If you jump on Google, you’ll easily find organizations that connect with your values. Take the time to do this and you won’t just be someone who posts her condolences and beliefs on Facebook — you’ll be actively showing and supporting them in the real, physical world. You’ll be making a difference.