Reaching Out

?Tis the season? they say, tis the season of giving, tis the season of donating to charity, tis the season of reaching out.

Canadians have a very proud tradition of reaching out, in Canada alone we have over 160,000 organizations that help other people. We have an estimated 12 million Canadians whom volunteer some time to helping other people. That is an impressive number given that our national population is only 32 million people.

That means over a third of us are prone to reaching out and helping neighbors and strangers alike. And you may be surprised at who are the biggest segment of those volunteers. The largest segment is our young people, the 15 to 24 year olds the second largest group are single people between 35 and 44 (where I happen to fall). They form a vibrant part of our communities.

This outpouring of ?reaching out? happens all year, it happens in every community, and there are very few homes in our country that are not touched in some way by someone who is out there reaching out, someone who is helping building a stronger community, a stronger nation, a stronger world.

Most of us who reach out are not doing this for material gain, we are offering our time, energy, and skills of our own free will. We somehow, someway, hope that we are planting a seed that will grow and benefit others. Often seeds are planted in us as well, we learn new skills, we improve ourselves, we change our own lives while helping others change theirs.

Reaching out is a two way street, it benefits all who participate and get involved. Personally I have worked predominantly in the non-profit sector, and most of my jobs over the years have involved working with children, but strangely while I worked in this sector is not when I became involved in my world, when I started reaching out.

For me, I think I didn?t develop my emotional maturity for compassion for others till I was older, after I left the non-profit sector. But, a really interesting thing has happened, an amazing thing really. I found that as I started giving my time, my money, my effort to others, that I actually wanted to give more, my reaching out has fueled my desire to reach out more.

I also consider myself extremely lucky that I have not the duty to give to others, but the privilege to be able to do so.

I want to invite all of you to think about reaching out to others as well. Even in a small town like ours there are countless opportunities to reach out and help.

The couple of minutes to help a neighbor, a couple of hours to get involved in a community event, a more major commitment to get involved in a worthy organization either local or otherwise. These days you don?t even have to leave home to get involved, you can even ?virtually volunteer? over the internet. I also encourage you to do this not just in this the holiday season, but to get involved in your ?world? all year long. The positive effect on you and those you help is incredible.

I would like to finish up with a few words from one of my heroes of the 20th century.

?We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.?

– Sir Winston Churchill