Sunday, December 15, 2013

*What Can One Person Do?

Each morning around four A.M.,  my rituals involve revving the Keurig, grabbing an icepack, and settling into my recliner with Marley, my MacBook, and a blanket.  Every day I check in on my friends on Facebook and Happier, looking to see if anyone has a birthday, or seems in need of some positive feedback. I look for my close friends and family members' posts, trying to keep in touch with my loved ones up north, and back east.  Then I scan Pinterest for inspiration, read over my emails, and set about the task of writing for a couple of hours.  

During my usual Facebook routine, one comment jumped out at me on December 9.

Could use a miracle right now.... — feeling stressed.

After doing a little investigation, I discovered that my Facebook friend, also one of my former students I had taught in first and fifth grade, was struggling to make ends meet for her young family of six. I worried and fretted about it.  I'd never taken on something like this; always using the excuse of being too busy.  Donating money was more my style when I was working full-time. Someone else was always doing the front-man work. I had been glad to contribute behind the scenes.  

While perusing Pinterest, I had noticed a touching tribute to Nelson Mandela on the day of his death, December 5, 2013. What an extraordinary example he has been to the world of giving his life to the betterment of us all.  I think I felt a little overwhelmed when I read the words, "What can one person do?" 

When setting daily intentions of compassion or service, I would wonder what good I could do.  Could I make a difference?  My resources were limited, or so I thought. "What can one person do?" became a mantra to me, so when I noticed my friend's Facebook post, I was inspired to dig a little deeper, and figure out some way to make a difference.

No longer having the excuse of not having time, I knew this opportunity was mine because I had asked for it.  I tossed and turned that night, knowing that I did not have enough money to make much difference.  After a fitful night's sleep, I woke up knowing just what to do.  

Taking a deep breath, I sent the little mom a message.  

"Your post on Facebook recently has me thinking that maybe you need a little help this year.  You were hoping for a miracle, and I wish I knew how to make those happen, but if enough people try to make a difference, no matter how small, maybe it will feel like a miracle... I can't do everything, but I can do something.  If you'd rather not tell me specifically what's going on, I can respect your privacy.  Would you at least send me your address?  Thanks, Sweetie.  I hope you will feel calmer just knowing people care.  I love you."

Next, I sent a message to my friends at the elementary school and the middle school, enlisting their help. I submitted my student's family's name to Andy's Market for their Christmas Dinner Giveaway. When I told one of my friends in Marysvale about the situation, she fondly recalled teaching my friend and her husband when they were in high school.  Before I left her house, I had two gifts for the children, and my first donation.  I called my ex-husband, who is a butcher. Yes, he would gladly donate some meat. A friend at school had an extra Christmas tree. Several friends offered gently used clothing for the children. Others offered to help support our project financially. After assessing the family's needs, and finding out the children's desires for Christmas, I submitted the list in a message on Facebook, and my friends jumped at the opportunity to be of service.

Money wasn't my long suit here.  My friends and our community were my greatest resource.  I suppose I was limiting myself to think of MY money as the necessary resource. Other human beings, my friends, will always be the greatest resource. The owner of the little market called me back. He wanted to help. Santa will be delivering a Christmas dinner to a very grateful family next weekend. Every day I have been so touched by others who also have the intention of living their lives with compassion. They may not verbalize their goals as an intention, but that is exactly what they are doing, living their lives in the service of others.

What can one person do? When that person plants a seed of compassion, and it is watered by the love and generosity of a community, one person can do much more than ever imagined. Never underestimate your potential for making a difference.  One individual may simply have an idea, but when good people come together to implement a plan, great things can happen.  


  1. What an inspiring story! Merry Christmas to the community of Marysville!

    1. Marysvale is a feel-good town. Love it here; love the people even more.


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