QUESTION: I’ve been following with great sadness the tragedy that has befallen the Philippino people and am especially grief-stricken about the children as I have six beautiful, well cared for grandchildren. I’m 79 years old with a limited income, and yet I’d like to help in some way. I am praying for them every day. Do you have any suggestions?
~ Loves Children
Dear Loves Children,
I commend you for your desire to help in the wake of this devastating situation that has affected so many in the Philippines. Whenever a natural disaster happens somewhere, whether in our backyard or around the world, all of us respond in different ways. Unfortunately, if we are far removed from the disaster it’s easy for indifference to set in.
In either case, most of us struggle with how to help the children of the world who are drastically affected and have no means to help themselves. This was pronounced as we watched the scene unfold in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, where thousands of children were left homeless and parentless. Now in the Philippines we see the tragedy unfold again as orphaned children roam the streets scavenging for food and water. There are many organizations that assist disenfranchised children around the world in underdeveloped countries like Haiti or those affected by disasters. One such organization is World Wide Village (www.worldwidevillage.org) that provides food, clothing, education and healthcare through child sponsorships for children in Haiti. For as little as $28 per month you can give immediate relief and continuing care for children. Other ongoing support for needy children can be given through Compassion International (www.compassion.com) or The American Red Cross (www.redcross.org). There are also many disaster relief organizations such as Convoy of Hope (www.convoyofhope.org) that were already providing aid in both the Philippines and Haiti long before there was such a great need due to the catastrophes that so greatly affected the children in those countries.
I would also encourage you to involve your grandkids in helping needy children. There’s no better way to instill in them an appreciation for what they have and an unselfish heart that is focused on others.
Randy Foster, Lead Pastor
Christian Life Church
Dear Loves Children:
I believe that the fact that you are so saddened and moved to pray is a huge blessing for those in the Philippines. I know that when we take the time to see our blessings, and the blessings of those we love, it often moves us to deep compassion and empathy. I also do not believe that help always needs to be in the form of great financial sacrifice, especially when one does not have the means.
Have you thought of doing something somewhat inexpensive such as volunteering locally to assist the Philipinno people? Or perhaps putting together care boxes with essentials such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, a small toy and note? The dollar store can make this very affordable. If your grandchildren are geographically close, perhaps they can assist you in putting a few together packages together and sending them over. Even if just a few children receive something it makes a difference. You can contact local organizations that are perhaps taking donations and that will send them over for you further reducing the cost but nonetheless touching a life. If your grandchildren are able to do this project with you, they will learn a lesson in serving the less fortunate. If they are not close, it is something you could do on your own.
Beyond that, I believe in the power of prayer and know that alone is a huge gift to those suffering.
Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian, Licensed psychotherapist, Thrive Therapy Center, Montrose
QUESTION: For many years, I’ve worked as a member of support staff for local officials. In that capacity, I attend many events. The support staff has been trained to listen attentively to our constituents and bring information and complaints to the attention of the individual who can best use those comments and act on them to better serve our community. Often, when I’m engaged in conversation with a constituent and attempting to listen attentively, there are constant interruptions from other constituents who say, “This will only take a minute.” The minute turns into a long laundry list of grievances and always takes longer than a minute. In the meantime, the individual I was conversing with has to wait, and some just walk away.
Is there a kind, spiritual way to deal with these interruptions?
~ Public Servant
Dear Public Servant,
There is always a spiritual solution to every challenge we face. The key is to act mindfully. Be open to the solution by trusting your higher instincts, otherwise known as the voice of God, enough to follow through with what you know to be the best practices for you and those you are dealing with. That means honor yourself and honor the other person in a way that brings about mutually respectful communication and results.
Many circumstances can be resolved by setting boundaries. Your challenge is so tell-tale of the dire need in the world – people want to be heard and the severity of their need will sometimes be expressed in thoughtless behavior to make every assurance they are acknowledged!
By the sound of it, you are a very good listener and make every effort to do the right thing by acknowledging needs of constituents and assuring those concerns get directed to the best source for resolution. The next step in serving those constituents is to take charge by establishing acceptable parameters within your conversations. In doing so you avoid the potential of someone railroading the conversation and you stay on point with your goals. If someone approaches to voice a grievance while you are in the midst of discussion, politely and immediately stop them and let them know that you are currently engaged in a conversation and that you will be happy to devote the same attention to their needs once you are available. Give them a definite time to reconnect such as, “I will be available in 15 minutes.” If they say they can’t wait, give them your business card and ask them to call you.
By establishing boundaries you have done several things: honored the time of the person you are speaking with and demonstrated to that person that you value their time and concerns; honored the “interrupter” by showing that you value their time and concerns and, most importantly, you have honored yourself by showing you value your time and concerns.
Setting boundaries allows you to be present to each person that has sought out your expertise, which is the goal of the conversation. In the end, we teach people how to treat us by the way we conduct our own daily living. The level at which we honor ourselves and others will always returned to us in kind.
Live in Love!
Of course there are the regular annoyances such as the one you describe, in addition to many others that make your job a bit difficult. But ultimately, what better job can you ask for than one that affords you the opportunity – no, the privilege – of helping other people?
Serving the public is of the greatest callings one can answer. It provides you with the ability to enhance people’s lives and make a real difference.
It gives you the opportunity to fix what is wrong in government and improve what is right.
Above all, however, is the realization that helping another improve his or her station in life is a most vital spiritual undertaking. It is a central tenet of the Bible and it is a crucial element of almost every religious belief system.
I would suggest that when you encounter any of the various frustrations that are common in your profession, take a moment to contemplate your job and its inherent spirituality. Think about how lucky you are that you are able to do God’s holy work by bettering the lives of others. Hopefully, this realization will enable you to withstand the pressures of your work and carry on helping the citizens of this great country.
Rabbi Simcha Backman
Chabad Jewish Center