There are no words or deeds to bring the loved ones back from last week's tragedy. We might find solace and give some to others by making a difference in small or large ways by sending letters and cards to families, or by making a cash donation to the United Way in their honor. Here aretwo simple ways to help:
Have you ever had a day, a week, month, or year that could only described with a word such as: Intensity? That may end up being my life's theme, but last week was particularly definitive. So much that I was physically dragging by mid-week. I felt like a zombie shuffling through Costco on Wednesday night. I ran into a former neighbor, then proceeding to check off the grocery list, I bumped into the parent of one of my community service scholar students at Paly.
Much later, and my cart full, the mom came back into the store to find me and I thought, "Uh, oh, she needs something from me and I have no energy to help." My personal supply had been depleted by my family's emotional needs. Yi walked alongside my shopping cart, and I just came out and asked her, "So, what's up?" She replied, "Oh, I just need to talk to you. I'll wait for you outside." At this point, I started the deep breathing exercises and looked for alternate exits from Costco--none to be found. She had no idea what I was dealing with at the time, and that I would not be able to help her. I might have even lost composure one way or another if she had so much as asked.
As I proceeded to the parking lot from the receipt-check I could see Yi waving to me, and in her arms was a fresh winter-time bouquet of flowers! She smiled and told me, "You do so much, I just want to thank you!" I gasped and hugged her, twice. "You have no idea what kind of week I've had, so this is really perfect timing, thank you." This kind gesture, combined with another one--a sweet poinsettia and a plate of brownies left by my friend Julie from church, were enough to get me through a week of extreme Intensity. As the adrenaline stops pumping from my own trials, I'll be inspired by the goodness of Yi and Julie to show my own appreciation toward others in my midst.
Many heartfelt thanks to Paly parent Carolina Moraes-Liu at Documentario.com and to Paly student filmmaker Sophia Pino for their work with me over the past year to make these five incredible videos celebrating the good work of students at Palo Alto High School. Click and Enjoy!
A Few of Paly's Fall 2012 President's Award Recipients
Congratulations to 194 students, 189 from Palo Alto High School and five from Gunn High School for their dedication to improving the community. This semester we have the biggest group of award recipients ever! On Friday, December 7th our school will honor these passionate students at a special lunchtime ceremony to bestow the President's Award for Volunteer Service, a nationally recognized award with commendation from President Barack Obama. Students who have documented 100 or more hours of community service will receive a certificate, pin, and letter signed by the President of the United States. They will also be listed on the national database of recipients. Palo Alto High School students can also receive transcript recognition for their service hours when they turn in proper documentation by the beginning of their Senior year. See our information pages, with database and student reflections on service at Paly.net/service. Check out the program and list of recipients for the President's Award at Palo Alto High School this semester. A huge thank you to the many, many parent and student volunteers who keep our service-learning and community engagement program growing!
The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back, by Kevin Salwen and Hannah Salwen. 2010, Houghton Mifflen Harcourt.
"Do Something: A Handbook for Young Activists," by Nancy Lublin. 2010, Workman Publishing.
"How to Make a Difference: Over 1,000 ways to serve at home, in your community, and in the world," by Catherine E. Poelman. 2002, Shadow Mountain.
160 Ways to Help the World: Community Service Projects for Young People," by Linda Leeb Duper. 1996.
"Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul," by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. 2002, Health Communications, Inc.
"Giving is Living: 101 Ways to Practice Effortless Generosity," by Marnie & Tisha Howard. 2009, Hatherleigh.
"Make a Difference: America's Guide to Volunteering and Community Service," by Arthur I. Blaustein. 2003, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
"Take Action! A Guide to Active Citizenship," by Marc Kielburger, Craig Kielburger. 2002, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
"The Idealist.org Handbook to Building a Better World," Idealist.org with Stephanie Land. 2009, Action Without Borders.
"Volunteering: The Ultimate Teen Guide," by Kathleen Gay. 2004, Scarecrow Press.
Words that Work
Mercy, n. 1. kindness in excess of what may be expected or demanded by fairness; forbearance and compassion 2.) the power to forgive or be kind. Syn.tolerance, favor, compassion.
"All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough." ~Anna Quindlen, A Short Guide to a Happy Life.
"I know not what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." ~Albert Schweitzer, quoted in The 8th Habit by Steven Covey.
Slog, vi. 1. to make one's way with great effort; plod 2. to work hard at something; toil. ~New World Dictionary
Make a Difference...
Use the Good Works Blog as a resource to inspire everyday acts of good will, or to explore volunteering and community service in your world.
1.) In the World: Write letters to anyone(!) serving in the military, organize or participate in a blood drive, write letters and emails to elected officials to vote for specific environmental initiatives.
2.) In the Community: Gather new socks and underwear for a nearby homeless shelter or resource center, gather non-perishable food (especially during summer months) for a food bank, offer to sing and/or play an instrument at a convalescent home.
3.) In the Neighborhood: Offer to rake your neighbor's leaves, collect trash at nearby park, bake a special cake for a friend when it's not their birthday!