In the midst of our busy and demanding lives, it is so easy to miss out on the joy that comes from helping others. We have bills to pay, kids who are involved in sports and community activities, social and family events, and needs that require our money, time, and attention.
In my case, I have an 88-year-old father who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and his care needs take a lot of my energy these days. While giving ourselves to these necessary and important responsibilities and activities is what we should do, there are also other opportunities, large and small, to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Sometimes these opportunities escape our notice or remain on the list of good intentions unfulfilled.
I have recently been reminded in numerous ways that there are so many opportunities to give back and pay it forward. I have been challenged to look beyond the urgent needs in my immediate family and respond to the needs of others who are far worse off.
I have an aunt who lives in New York State. I have not seen her for many years, but she recently called my Dad and let him know that his brother is now in long term care with Alzheimer disease. While the government is covering his care costs, her house is now in the hands of the government to cover those costs. (In the U.S., Medicaid can make a claim against your estate to recover funds it expended on your behalf.)
My aunt’s plight caused us to pause and be grateful for the healthcare that is available to us in Canada. Her situation also pushed us to action. We are now working on ways to help her, and finding joy in doing so.
I also have an acquaintance who is a highly qualified academic, but he is struggling to find enough work to house and feed his family. I recently met with him to discuss his situation and see if there was some help that I could provide. The academic work he is able to get is precarious and inadequate. While he is making every effort outside of academics to supplement his income with other employment, opportunities are few and far between.
His experience is not unique. Many well-qualified people are finding it tough to get full-time work that meets their basic needs. It is tough out there! Just as others helped me when I was in a similar situation 25 years ago, I am now giving back and paying it forward by doing what I can to support him in his efforts to find additional employment. I hope that those efforts will be successful, and he will find employment that meets his needs and enables him to flourish.
I share these stories to encourage all of us to see and respond to the needs of others around us. Perhaps you have a neighbour who is unemployed or underemployed. Is there a way that you can help that person? All of us have something that we can offer in the way of support and encouragement. And the joy that comes from giving back and paying it forward is beyond measure.
At CLAC, we strive to provide our members with better opportunities to work, grow, and fulfill their ambitions. These days that is a tall task and a challenging goal. But is one that we are determined to achieve.