What I Can Do

The month of June was supposed to be a turning point, a time when the routine would be less routine and the world would begin to heal and look familiar. While that is happening in some parts of the world, the US went from one overwhelming crisis to another.

This is a place we have been to before, but it seems different this time. A pandemic, people out of work, a political climate spinning out of control, people are restless, divided and angry. It almost seemed inevitable.

Just like a pandemic has left us wondering about our new normal, a senseless murder and a week of protest has left us wondering how it will effect change? This is bigger than race and equality, much bigger. While protesting raises awareness, action creates change.

When you look around your community, you will likely see desperation of every kind – homelessness, addiction, abuse, teenage pregnancies, high school drop outs, mental illness, lack of adequate medical service, education and recreation. Does your community promote equal opportunity, education, community development and enrichment? Are there resources for low income families, children from broken homes, unwed mothers, the elderly, abuse victims, and recovering addicts? When you see desperation, does it compel you to want to make things better?

If you are not happy with the way things are, get involved. Attend your local Council meetings, understand the political climate in your community. Research ballot issues before you cast a vote. Hold your elected officials and police accountable. Look for volunteer opportunities that will utilize your skills. You can make a difference.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lend A Hand

Some years ago I was a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Over a two year period, I committed many hours of service to this incredible organization by working on several construction sights. Habitat for Humanity was originally formed by President Jimmy Carter and has a powerful slogan that expresses their purpose – ‘offering a hand up, not a hand out.’ Habitat builds homes for low income families, regardless of race or religion. Homes are delivered at cost and interest free. Recipients pay a down payment and monthly payments towards the ownership of their home. They are also required to invest 300 hours of community service during construction. While the family’s home is under construction, the new owners take home management classes that include budgeting, and home maintenance. The goal of this organization is to eliminate poverty and homelessness from communities and to inspire pride in ownership.

There are a number of positive statistics associated with home ownership, but the one I tend to appreciate most is that 59% of children of homeowners are more likely to own their own home within ten years of leaving their parents household. Children of homeowners are also 25% more likely to graduate High School.

During my time at Habitat, I worked side by side with many new owners and saw first hand their hardships and struggles. A single mother raising two children, wanting something better for them. A young couple, just starting out with hopes and dreams for the future. Their determination to move up and not be caught up in a cycle of poverty was admirable.

My community supports many outreach programs for low income families, including pre-school funding, addiction counseling, victims of abuse, child advocacy and teenage pregnancy to name a few. I am proud that we fund many social services through a combination of grants, community contributions and taxes with much of the labor being provided by a generous volunteer community.

While I am outraged at the circumstances of the wrongful death of yet another black man at the hands of a police officer, I have to wonder where we failed these individuals and what might have made a difference in their lives and attitudes.

There will always be bad cops and criminals. There will always be prejudice and inequality. There will always be the ‘haves and the have nots,’ the do gooders, the instigators and people who just show up without a clue. And, the playing field will never be level. But, we can do better, much better.

When we care more about lifting people up and less about tweets, sound bites and vilifying each other, we will find a way to contribute, and we will effect change. Why be just an angry voice in the crowd when you can make a difference?

About Suzanne@PictureRetirement

Writing about life as a retiree - travel, photography, health and fitness
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23 Responses to What I Can Do

  1. Gilda Baxter says:

    Suzanne, the “Black Lives Matter” movement has been incredible. Even here in my little corner of the world, we have joined the peaceful protest demonstrations. It is so important to speak out about it, even if we never completely eradicate racism, it is so important to keep trying and never give up. The death of George Floyd has been the catalyst for change…which is long overdue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gilda, my hope is that individuals will be motivated in a constructive, compassionate way that will lead to uplifting all oppressed people by creating foundations for success. To continue to allow ourselves to be swallowed up in this giant political machine should not be an option.

      Like

  2. JT Twissel says:

    Habitat is a great organization. My son worked for them and learned so much. I worked as an advocate for a 13 year old black girl in foster care and everywhere we went we got stares and they weren’t kindly stares. There’s a lot more racism out there than people like to think.

    Like

    • Yes, there is a lot of racism, and there is also a lot of ignorance and mistrust that is mistaken for racism. We can’t get to the heart of racism if we don’t break through those walls and meet each other with open minds.

      Like

  3. Gosh these are wise words!! You/We can make a difference. Maybe not in a huge global way but every good deed begets another. Like the Pay it Forward movement. What is we all just treated one another the way we want to be treated ourselves? And kept that in mind with every action we take. Maybe there would be fewer senseless murders and less senseless acts of destruction and violence. #MLSTL

    Like

  4. Easin' Along says:

    Suzanne,
    I have worked on many Habitat homes and the best part of the experience is meeting the new occupants. They are always hopeful for the promise of a better future and extremely grateful for the opportunity and support. As for me, I am a big believer in giving a “hand up” and probably get more out of the Habitat experience than the recipients. Great post! Joe

    Like

  5. Powerfully written — and so very true.
    We CAN each make a difference in so many meaningful ways. The choices are truly endless.

    Like

    • Thank you Donna. I sold books in a second hand book store sponsored inside our main library a few years back. Our regulars included some very lonely people and a few obviously ‘homeless’ ones who used the library’s facilities for a quick bath and visit to the book store for conversation. I always felt that my job there was to simply listen. You never know when, where or how you can make a difference if you don’t put yourself out there. And, yes. The choices are endless.

      Like

  6. leannelc says:

    The US has certainly been hugely impacted by all that’s been going on over the last few months Suzanne and I wonder when it will end. Things here is Australia are more stable and the covid restrictions are lifting (except for interstate and international travel). Our aboriginal population is marching and protesting too as a reaction to the BLM protests in the US – fortunately on a more moderate level. It’s a very unsettled world we’re living in atm and I really do hope and pray that all this unrest leads to a better future and not more anarchy.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    Like

  7. Jo says:

    What’s happening in your country makes my heart hurt. We’re getting some of it over here but not nearly to that extent. I love how in your post you talk about what you *can* do. Well-written, great post. As the author in me would say – show, don’t tell.

    Like

  8. HI Suzanne, the world isn’t a happy place at the moment is it? We are all hurting in some way and it comes to a point where we need to make a decision to take a stand for what we believe in. I love the Habitat for Humanity idea and have heard of this project before. Thank you for sharing your thoughts at #MLSTL and sending you hugs from Australia. xx

    Like

  9. Laurie says:

    Good for you for giving your time to Habitat for Humanity. What an amazing organization. I think President Carter is just a wonderful human being. I didn’t appreciate his inventiveness, compassion, and character nearly enough when he was president. I loved this post, especially this line: “While protesting raises awareness, action creates change.” so true. We need to take meaningful action. You give some wonderful suggestions on how to get started.

    Like

    • Thank you Laurie, and thank you for giving me the courage to write this post. I write about retirement and leisure and wasn’t quite sure how my readers would respond to something serious.I think supporting the communities where we live goes a long way toward creating strong foundations.Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  10. Erica/Erika says:

    Suzanne, “…different this time” and “inevitable” speaks volumes. Your post is the first time I have learned about the behind the scenes story on Habitat for Humanity. A huge wow on the statistics. Suzanne, your last sentence brought tears to my eyes. I learned a great deal from your entire post. Succinct, poignant, powerful, heartfelt. “Action creates change” truly resonates.

    Like

  11. Erica, our town is exemplary in terms of its volunteer efforts and financial support for low income families. Habitat is just one of the many organizations which provides opportunities for people who want to break the cycle of poverty. I firmly believe that change will evolve one community at a time. But first, we have to tune out the noise and stop being influenced by collective thought. Thanks for your supportive comment.

    Like

  12. kemkem says:

    I struggle between saying something and not saying anything. The world is becoming more aware because there is documented evidence, not that it’s usually a one-off. A lot of days l am simply tired, very tired. This time does feel different because the people who are speaking up are white people and not ones of color (no one listened to them before). Compared to others, I have been lucky all things considered. The amount of racism l have encountered have been small. I always remember friends faces when they hear what things l have to consider before visiting a place, like the reception l might get. Great post.

    Like

    • Kem, I can’t pretend to walk in your shoes, but I am not blind to issues facing black people around the world and especially here at home. My choices come from a place of human decency and a genuine interest in helping all people achieve a better life. What I see happening in the US extends far beyond racial issues. There is genuine hatred brewing here between political parties and I feel like a lot of ‘groups’ are just pawns in a big game.

      Like

  13. Christie Hawkes says:

    All of the things you mention in this post are so important–educate yourself on the issues, make your voice heard, and take action. Be part of the solution. I am in the listening and gathering information stage. Of course, while I’m there, I can also contribute, in time and/or money, to organizations and businesses that are making a difference. #MLSTL

    Like

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