For me, renewal is usually about self; not selfish, but oriented toward renewal of faith, spirituality and connections to those things. I go inward, to study, to think, and to grow, hopefully, as a person.
There are many benefits for me in this path. I learn how to be peaceful, how to address concerns that I have (e.g. problems I have with others, that are really my problem -problems of reactions, expectations, assumptions,) and what things I find inspirational or comforting within my spiritual seeking, and faith renewal.
But there is another result of such introspective times. A lesson I learned from my parents, about the value of giving of oneself. When I was young, my parents bought a 110 acre “ranch” for a weekend getaway place. (This was in 1963, things were cheaper back then! ) They called the place CIHU which stands for Can I Help You. The philosophy was published, as I recall, in a small pamphlet called Let’s All CIHU, published by the Macalester Park Publishing Co. It is very unlikely that you will find that online, unless you know that it is one of the credos created by literacy pioneer, Frank C. Laubach, who also adopted the motto Each One, Teach One.
It was a philosophy inherent in the personalities and the marriage of my parents; helping others. It has always been one of the underpinnings of my life, and as an adult, to this day, I find great comfort and solace in helping others in whatever small ways I can. The three charitable activities I am involved with now are:
KIVA – Turned on to this wonderful organization by dear friend Deb Adams and her writer buddy Mary Saums, I belong to the open team that Mary started, called the Peace-Loving Book Chicks. Mary says, “We’re a group of readers who love the way books open doors into different worlds. All peace-lovers and book-lovers welcome!” I have made five loans so far, plowing repayments back into additional loans.
Crafting for a Cause is another charitable endeavor that is dear to me. I chose it, after once being very involved with The Linus Project, in Tennessee, because I wanted to make items of various kinds (mostly crochet) for others, and this charity has two (of several) that are close to my heart; the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (my parents graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1937 and 1938) and the University of Davis, Sacramento Infusion Center, which is where I had my chemo treatments for my Endometrial Cancer. A great bunch of women, they have a yahoo group, with daily postings, and ideas for afghans, baby layettes and more.
And the newest and most precious to me, my sister Reverend Betty Pagett’s organization; The Oma Project. I will be helping, I hope, to set up a website for her soon, so I will let you know what that information is. In the meantime, you can “like” the project on Facebook, and find out how you can help. The concept is simple – to help homeless families (families with young children) get housing and financial assistance to get them on their feet. Let me know if that link doesn’t work, or just go to FB and type The Oma Project in the search field.
Finding the joy of giving, of “paying it forward” and thinking of others is a way for me to connect to the world at large; admitting and addressing the fact that we are not in existence for selfish reasons, nor is our purpose in life to only focus on our own backyard. I don’t have a lot, but there are so many others that are worse off than I am. I am blessed by a wonderful family, a deep appreciation of the value of nurture, and the memory of two unique parents who made the world a better place.
Want some other ideas? Check out Craft Hope (available here), a book I reviewed for Story Circle Book Reviews that has marvelous ideas for handmade crafts and suitable charities for your offerings. Listed a couple other great books on crafts for charitable giving as well.
Support charitable organizations through their catalogs. Buying from SERRV, Heifer International, or something unusual such as this blog that searches the Internet for charitable giving ideas. Whether we help locally or globally, we CAN make a difference. Renew someone else’s life, as you renew your own.