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4/8/09 If You Could Make A Difference....


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If you knew that you could make a difference in the life of just one person by doing something positive, what would it be? Or have you done something (though it may seem small) to make a difference to the people around you? If so, what was it?

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I was an elementary school nurse with the health department when I retired. The last year was our first full year of aggressive BMI (body mass index) assessments with followups and I had the same poor results I have always had with the other screenings (vision & hearing) that we did, and it was making me very angry; one afternoon as I was on my third followup call (after three letters with forms to take to the doctor) I finally got through to one of my especially hard-to-reach parents and I identified myself & why I was calling, and the first words out of her mouth were "When I got that first letter, I was SO angry I wanted to beat you!" She went on to say that as soon as she got the second letter she was so enraged she decided to "show" me and took her daughter to the doctor. She said that the doctor diagnosed, among other problems associated with her daughter's HIGH BMI, Type II diabetes mellitus (her daughter was in Third Grade); she said she was so mortified and humiliated that she didn't have the heart to send the letter back! I told her that there was no reason to be mortified, and that diagnosing her daughter was the purpose of the followup on the screening; she said, yes, she knew that' but she was a professional, and she should have known better about her daughter's diet, etc.

The upshot was when she told me to keep on harrasing the parents who were like her! and save their children! BTW, her daughter's diabetes was responding to diet & exercise, and the rest of the family were adjusting to diet & exercise changes, too!

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What a great outcome Holly!

I can't think of big things, but DH is convinvced that the more we give to charity, the more comes to us. It really has worked out that way. We used to be pretty poor monetarily, and felt like we couldn't ever make ends meet, much less donate much $, but since we have become more secure, we can give more and it seems like cycle that blesses us more each day.

The kids and I also try to be mindful of doing little things whenever we see the opportunity. Most of the examples I can think of are at stores. The kids and I each grab a cart from the parking lot when we go in, esp. if they are not in the corrals and just out in parking spaces. We always check to see if the person behind us in line only has a few items, or is elderly, and ask them to go ahead of us. My son is big on holding doors for others. And I leave coupons that I won't use on the shelf next to the item for someone else to use, or hand out my Michael's coupons on the way out if I didn't find anything to buy with them. We also seem to always be around when elderly ladies can't find their cars. :p We have gotten good at spotting different makes and models.

These are all little things, but I shop A LOT so it adds up and makes me feel good. Plus, I imagine that these people then go on to do nice things for others that they encounter.

Maybe not the type of thing that you had in mind with the ? Tracy, but these are the things that come to mind right now for me.

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I gave someone a car. (It needed work, but it ran) They in turn, fixed it up, used it and passed it on when they were able to get a better one.

I am more of a pay it forward type. I have plowed snow for people who couldn't for whatever reason and told them to not pay me, but to help someone else. Loaded groceries for old people in the snow with the hope that someday someone will do the same for me. I am dropping off a complete fish tank to someone so they can keep the baby fish their fish just had in a little tank.

Traci, I help ladies find their cars also! I saw an old lady wandering the parking lot looking lost, so I asked if she lost her car. She got in mine (it's a tall truck) and we eventually found hers - on the other side of the mall! It's funny, I only go to the mall once every 5 years or so.

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The things I've done have been small ones, also. I generally hold the door open for people. I try to do happy/pleasant things for people they don't expect, whether it is doing something or finding something for them. I used to volunteer at our elementary school (where J-F still goes) until that bit me in the butt (long story)! I try to smile more often when I am out. I'm trying to keep a sense of safety for my kids in times of crisis/illness in our family (J-F's diabetes, Emilie's depression and anxiety, Nicholas' inheritance of polycystic kidney disease from me). I'm trying to raise my own children to be responsible, reasonable, polite contributing members of society. I wrote a letter to my mother-in-law, who is dying of cancer, so that we now have a better understanding of each other and she is at peace with our relationship.

It's little things like this that I try to do as often as I can, just not as often as I could I will admit.

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I don't want to list out the things that I do ... but it is very important to help others whenever you can. In a big way, or a little way, it all makes a difference. My children have been raised to be aware of others' needs too, and to step in to help in any way they can. :p

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I go out on searches for missing persons. My first missing person turned into an infamous murder which attracted national attention. I went out on the first full day of searching after watching a tearful family pleading for the return of their missing daughter/dil who was pregnant. I searched the area where her car was found and fell in step on the way back with a search and rescue dog. I learned from the dog handler that a dozen dogs had been out the previous afternoon, and not one caught a whiff outside the car.

As I got close to the logistics center for the search I ran into the mother and father and in laws talking of what they need to gather for the next newscast. That was the beginning of an acquaintance which has extended from that week on through two more missing children cases. After moving on, I was snagged by a news person and asked about the search, and whether I would be back. I smiled ruefully and said my return was dependant upon the state of my feet; I made no mention of the search dogs. But it wasn't a matter of my feet. I watched the news and saw the family and knew I couldn't stay away. There daughter was never there out of her car, but she was somewhere. The only thing I could do was to search where the organizers sent me, knowing that that was one place they could mark off as a possible, and know I was probably searching for a body, not a live woman while the family came to accept the inevitable.

As the days went by it became obvious that the husband was guilty, and I offered comfort to both families. I counseled the father that hatred was a substance which destroyed the vessle which contained it. I know that my small words and gestures were appreciated.

I have run into the grieving father on other missing person's case and know that he is a help to those families, and that he has come to be at peace. I was just one of thousands, but I know that in my small way, I made an impact.

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I help our neighbors. Especially my good friends down the road - she has altzeimers and he has had surgery....so they need help with laundry and cooking. I provide that for them. Not every day, but often enough so that they are not starving and have clean underwear! Poor woman, she is getting worse. They will be moving away this summer to an assisted living home and I will miss them terribly.

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I helped with packing items up to put in the trucks for Katrina victims. Helped serve Thanksgiving dinners for 8 years for people who had no where else to go. Always open doors for people. Let people go ahead of me in line. I am a housekeeper in a hospital and sometimes the patients are embarrased when they make a mess and I try to reassure them that it isn't a problem. They have enough to worry about. I try to treat everyone like I wopuld like to be treated. But there are so many more people who have done far more then I have ever done.

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One of my favorite TV shows growing up was "The Christophers" (lots of really heavy, useful spiritual stuff; I was a wierd child & adolescent) and their theme song was "If everyone lit just one little candle/ what a bright world this would be", and that has stuck with me. I just mentioned one personal anecdote. I think President Obama is trying to reignite the spirit of volunteerism & service last emphasized by President Kennedy. It's a sure thing in today's world that we need to help one another and pay things forward, do little (or big) random acts of kindness, and try to make the world a safer, gentler place to live in.

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Holly, that reminds me of a song that I love called "The Power Of One". It's by Bomshel, and it has the same sort of message, about how one person can make a difference.

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I do little things, like say hello to the elderly folks in the grocery store, help out Habitat for Humanity, etc. I can't say that I do anything that in itself is lifechanging, but perhaps it's enough to start out someone's day right and help them smile all day.

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What a beautiful thread. I've tears in my eyes reading ways in which forum members have helped others. We really do belong to the best forum on the internet.

-Susanne

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What a beautiful thread. I've tears in my eyes reading ways in which forum members have helped others. We really do belong to the best forum on the internet.

-Susanne

Susanne, that is why I opened this topic. We are surrounded by bad news all of the time and most of us are shy to report what we have done to try and make a difference in others lives. Sometimes we may not even notice & recognize the good things we have done for others and I know we have a bunch of wonderful people here on the forum that have done (and continue to do) wonderful things for others!! I Love the experiences and please keep them coming :console:

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If you want another nurse story from me, when I worked at the state mental hospital one of our ward unit treatment & rehab specialists on our shift began coming by at least once a shift to have us check his BP, he complained of headaches. After a week or so he admitted he was getting headachy because he was hungry. I grabbed an Accucheck machine on a hunch and stuck his finger, and his blood glucose was over 500 mg/dl! Both us nurses nagged & nagged him, and he went to his doctor the next day and was on hypoglycemic meds by the end of the week, with supplemental insulin. The next thing we had to nag him about was to remember to bring an insulin vial with him to work.

The thing DH & I do now is whenever anyone, particularly in our age range, comments about our kayaks (they live on top of DH's truck most of the time) is to preach some level of physical activity, no matter your age.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have been put in charge of a project for our local county foster Kids organization. I am furnishing, assembling and decorating dollhouses to donate to this organization. They will be given to the children in foster care at Christmas-time. A lot of these kids (especially in this part of TX) have parents that are on drugs, were very, very abusive, or are in jail. Many of these kids have mental disabilites due to their parents use of drugs during and after conception. All of these kids are foster kids who don't really have any family of their own. I'm so proud to be in charge of this project, it's a monumental thing for me!

This is all through a professional organization I am a member of, the National Association of Women in Construction. We do tons of community service every year, including food bank donations, several events for the foster kids, military family sponsorships, sponsorships of familes that have been affected by construction accidents.

All in all, I do everything I can to try to help out those in need, no matter how small a matter it may seem to me.

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I try to do as much volunteer work as I can on the weekends and sometimes during the week. Our entire family gets involved so it is nice to spend the time with them as well as getting to know others better. I can't really think of any major thing that I have done to help anyone but I hope that by being kind and helpful in any way that maybe it has had a positive affect. Maybe I may have been kind to some one who was having a bad day and I did not know it. We may do things in our day that have an effect and never know it and this can go for good or bad so I hope that it is for the good. I do know that I have been places and have people comment on how well behaved my kids are and how rare it is to see that. This usually throws me off because I am thinking that they are monsters sometimes but it was so nice to hear. So hopefully in some small way I have done something to help someone and even if I never get any knowledge of it I will still try!

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I am a Tae Kwon Do instructor and a few years ago I was teaching the tots about good touching and bad touching. The mother and siblings of one of my students suddenly left the dojang visiting area and a huge commotion erupted outside. One of the other siblings found the courage to tell her mother that their father was molesting all of them. He was later found guilty and sent to prison. Safety and vindication for the innocent. From that moment on, I was in awe of my own responsibility.

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I try to do things for other people as much as I can. I give my inlaws a grocery card every month to supplement their income. I bought my friend her entire Thanksgiving dinner last year because I knew she could not afford it. I have given dollhouses to little girls so they can enjoy what I did not get to enjoy at their age.

I always tip more then recommended because I know that the worker`s rely on that income. Shoveling the walkway of the elderly neighbors without their knowledge.

Nothing super special...these are just things I have done all my life.

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About a year ago we bought a home in a quiet neighborhood that has mostly elderly people living there. We've introduced ourselves to mostly everyone, so they know us. The woman who lives across the street is always active, going places, working in her yard, etc. We noticed we hadn't seen her in awhile. One day I was home for lunch and I went to her house to check on her. She came to the door in a walker, told me she had broken her ankle, and was on the mend, but it would be awhile. I gave her our phone numbers and told her that she could call us anytime if she needed anything. We hadn't heard from her, but she did call my husband yesterday evening to come help her to move a few furniture items around. I think it always makes it a better day when you can help someone out. You get what you give.

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I knew miniaturists were a special group of people!

I have a real soft spot in my heart for the elderly, and, as someone up the list mentioned, I especially try to help them in public places, such as grocery stores and parking lots. So often new-fangled things are confusing to them and a simple smile and helping hand can go a long way in easing their burdens.

Several years ago I was able to help a younger person, and I wish I could know how things turned out for her. I was traveling with my uncle and we stopped at a restaurant for supper. He was a friendly person who almost always invited the waitress to join us at the table. Of course, they never did! Except this one. It was late, and we were the last customers.

It turned out that she was at a crossroads in a relationship with a young man. Her parents did not approve of him, he had a shady past, but she was sure she could help him. She and I talked for about 30 minutes, and I was able to point out some of the problems that lay ahead. Because I was a stranger, and she would never see me again, she just poured out her heart and listened to everything I said. I was careful not to sound "bossy", but it was obvious to me that the young man was very controlling and was, or soon would be, very abusive.

As my uncle paid the bill, she gave me a big hug and thanked me for helping her focus her thoughts. She would call him tomorrow and break off the relationship!

I was glad that I had been able to put aside my own weariness after driving all day and be there for her.

My uncle called those chance meetings "Divine Appointments" :wave:

If you just make yourself available, you can help a lot of people without really planning to.

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I've always wished that I had the means to help someone who has lost everything to start over again. I try to do the little things, but a lot of times wish I could do more. I do agree with the poster who talked about giving even when you can't afford to, because it all comes back, plus some. I'm a firm believer in that.

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I donated a basket full of new household supplies to a co-worker who had been forced out of her house with only the uniform she was wearing, by an abusive mate after 28 years of marriage. She had not wanted anyone to know of her miss fortune, and she was broke and sleeping in her car behind the shop, and contemplating suicide. I felt I had no choice but to tell our store owner privately. We helped her get a small apartment, and arranged to pick up furniture that others in my work place gave without having been told why it was being collected. At the time, she didn't realize it was a blessing in disguise.

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