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Posts tagged ‘It Takes a Village’

It Still Takes a Village

Most of the time the adage “It Takes a Village” is said regarding the effective raising of children.  It references the extended family that steps up to help as needed no matter what the situation.  But in reality that need for others, for community, that need for a village, extends to all of us at all stages of our lives.  Sometimes we are the ones needing help.  Sometimes we are the ones helping out.  Give and take makes the village work.

I was reminded of this fact the other day by a little human interest news item here in my home town of Bakersfield, California.  Well, it is actually not so little.  Bakersfield is the ninth largest city in the state with a population of almost 350,000.  When the larger Bakersfield-Delano area and the surrounding smaller cities are considered, the population grows to almost 840,000. What amazes me about the city—that I was reminded of by this news item—is that Bakersfield is really a small town at heart.  There is a sense of community here.

The news story was nothing fancy.  The opening line gives the basics:  “Today 85-year-old Herbert Jackson got the keys to his newly refurbished home.”  County Code regulations at the beginning of the month condemned the home he lived in since 1960, boarded it up as unsafe and put him on the streets.  Mr. Jackson did not ask for help; it seems that he was going to try to figure out something on his own.

Fortunately, area volunteers decided to help without being asked because it was the right thing to do.  They banded together to bring his home up to code.  In fact, rather than just meeting the minimum standards, the volunteers rebuilt everything from the floor up and even brought in new appliances and furniture.  Mr. Jackson lived with one of the volunteers for the weeks required for the hundreds of hours of work to be completed.  When the house was again ready for him, he was given new keys and moved back home.  Mr. Jackson simply said, “I don’t know what to say, I think I’m going to cry.” He accepted the generosity of strangers, as a member of the village.

Mr. Jackson was not the only one who received something valuable through this interaction.  Those volunteers got something too, besides work.  Since Mr. Jackson graciously accepted their help, the volunteers were able to demonstrate caring and compassion, share in communal experience, and participate in the give and take that holds the village together.

These sorts of actions happen all the time, thank goodness.  When we buy Girl Scout cookies, donate to a charity, put items on the prayer chain at church, bring a casserole to a friend going through a hard time, celebrate someone’s graduation or retirement, we are part of the village.  When we stop to help someone on the road who has car trouble, pull together after a natural disaster, or offer whatever we can to address a problem situation, we are part of the village. When we pay it forward or commit a random act of kindness, we are part of the village.  It is humanity’s give and take.  We give help when we can, so we can graciously take the help when we need it.

This is not the first time that this realization, this need for community, has come to mind.  Not too long after graduating from high school I remember chatting with my mom about giving and accepting help.  We basically concluded that if you do not let people help you, you are diminishing them and their love and concern for you.  It is part of being a caring, responsive, helpful member of the village to accept help as well as give it.

Do you remember Dinah Shore?  Singer in the 1940s who kept singing and hosted television shows in the 1970s?  She even had a relationship with Burt Reynolds that was a bit of a scandal since he was 20 years younger than she was. Mom and I both liked Dinah Shore, and we also liked quotes.  I think it was a Dinah Shore quote that started our conversation way back then:  “Trouble is part of life—if you don’t share it, you don’t give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough.”  Mr. Jackson’s story brought this quote and my conversation with mom to mind.

Today, village or community is as important as ever for all of us.  Neighbors. Family—near and far.  Friends. Colleagues.  Even blogging associates.  Strangers. We help when we can, even if it is just a word of encouragement or understanding.  We receive help when it’s needed.  The cycle repeats over and over.  As our world gets smaller and smaller, it seems even more important for us to reach out a hand to help when we can.

It feels good to be part of the village!

How helpful have you been lately?  What help has come your way?  How do you pay it forward?

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“The purpose of life is not to be happy.  It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”   Anne Frank

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”  Barack Obama

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”  Charles Dickens

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”  John Holmes

“The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this:  He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.”  Gordon B. Hinckley

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”  Maya Angelou

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”  Steve Maraboli

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”  John Bunyan

“We only have what we give.”  Isabel Allende

“I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other.  Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.”  Charles de Lint

“Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same—with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”  Mother Teresa

“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.”  Horace Mann

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”  Booker T. Washington

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.”  Mandy Hale

“Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water—it will make ripples throughout the entire pond.”  Jessy & Bryan Matteo

“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.”  Warren Buffett

“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.”  Leo Buscaglia

“There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”  Acts 20:35

“Do something for somebody every day for which you do not get paid.”  Albert Schweitzer

“To do more for the world than the world does for you—that is success.”  Henry Ford

“Life’s most urgent question is:  What are you doing for others?”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path.”  Buddhist Saying

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”  Bob Hope

“Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”  Danny Thomas

“There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.”  Helen Keller

“If you want to improve your world, then focus your attention on helping others.”  John C. Maxwell

9/11 Anniversary: It Takes a Village

It takes a village.  We all know the sentiment—and believe it!  It does take a village to make life more manageable, more enjoyable.  Especially with the hectic fast-paced, technologically engaged life we live today.  It is more important than ever to stop, pause and connect with the individuals around us.

In day-to-day life, the fellow villagers are the ones who help babysit, carpool, hold open the door, stop and ask how you are doing and really care about the answer, pack your lunch, put a love note in that packed lunch or suit pocket, call to see how the interview went, do the laundry even if it’s not their day, read a bedtime story, are careful to sit down with others for dinner, remind others that it’s okay to not do the dishes tonight or suggest a trek outside to watch the stars.  It’s the human connection, the interaction that makes the village work. The awareness that this sense of village needs to expand in ever widening circles even to the strangers in the crowd give rise to such movements as practicing Random Acts of Kindness.  We need the human touch.

When crises surface—whether it’s a house fire, an earthquake, a lost job or car accident—then the village is even more important.  And people step up, even strangers.  During the aftermath of the Northridge Earthquake—I lives in Chatsworth very close to the epicenter—we all were there for each other, giving a blanket, a hug, a bottle of water, a place to stay, updates on loved ones from other parts of the city.  If someone needed to pause and collect themselves, someone else stepped up to make sure they were okay, to help them take that next step forward.  We see this in the news all the time as villagers respond to whatever emergency surfaces. 

This weekend as we honor the 10 year anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, the power of the village is even more apparent, and important.  We are reminded through the memories, photos, and specials of the villagers who stepped forward to be there during the immediate tragedy and its ongoing aftermath.  The first-responders, the ongoing helpers, the volunteers, the city workers, the survivors, the family members, the passengers on the plane, the newscasters, the distant communities sending help and prayers.  We are in this together—and we need to remember that, especially this weekend as we reach out with a touch, a tear, a prayer.

One great way we can all show our solidarity with the village this weekend is to display the flag proudly and prominently.  This idea was presented via an email from a friend.  It originated with the Activities Facilitator for the Greenfield Unified School District in Bakersfield, California. Every community across the country is planning some sort of event or activity to remember not just the tragedy of 9/11 but the strength and power of the village that kept us all going.  Those immediately impacted by the tragedy especially need our ongoing care and support, but all the village members also need a chance to join hearts and hands as we move forward, together.    

The Nation’s tribute is available through the World Trade Center Memorial. To view this website, go to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.  This site offers a wide array of information about the tragedy and the heroes of 9/11 as well as interactive opportunities to share stories, find names, appreciate memories, and build connections. Another site allows people to express thanks to the heroes of 9/11. 

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“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” Jane Howard

“We do no great things, only small things with great love.”  Mother Teresa

“Every time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. . . and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy. . . those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.”  Robert F. Kennedy


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