The Holiday Season might be over but there are so many ways to help our wonderful world out!
One early December morning, after not being on social media for 2 weeks, (I highly recommend this btw), I stumbled upon a re-post from an August episode of the Ellen Show. Her show is absolutely one of my weaknesses, especially when it’s a thumbnail of Ellen and her guest wiping tears away; I’m a sucker for a tear-jerker.
This particular clip was about an extremely generous, 4th grade teacher/major humanitarian, from Albuquerque New Mexico, who told such a beautiful, inspiring story of what she was doing to help make a difference in the lives of as many children as she possibly could. For example, she shared the 1st question to her students in the morning is, “Have you eaten anything?” and then followed by more thoughtful things such as, “Do you need clean clothes? Do you need to brush your teeth?” etc. Then to hear that the school has such a tiny budget and she sometimes pays for things out of her own pocket, or that she took in 2 children when CPS came to the school and ended up fostering them, (she already had her child). The kids on the video spoke about her as if she was an angel and little girls said they wanted to be just like her when they grew up.
As I drowned in a saturated mountain of kleenex and between heavy sobs, these statements echoed in my head and seemed to be looping over and over. I was in complete awe at what a beautiful human being she was and immediately had the urge to make a bigger impact, a bigger difference, in a bigger way than I ever have. “I am going to change the world!”
After I realized that I not only had said that last statement out loud, but I was also in my pj’s in a superhero stance standing solo, (so I added the superhero stance for dramatic effect- BUT, that’s what I looked like in my head!), I took a few moments to reflect. For starters, I knew it wasn’t that I had JUST then decided that I wanted to make a difference in the world. I was raised to be a helper. (Legit, my mother is a regular Mother Theresa.) Every year, around the holidays, I volunteer to hand out a full turkey dinner to families in need; this year, 10,000 families were fed as a result of the EJ Jackson Foundation. So in one way or another, I find some way to offer my help, I love it. However, I said around the holiday’s– this is the part I really want to work on. Let the research begin.
You would think that I would have just started by looking into one charitable foundation, that was specific to a cause that I felt deeply about…right? Nope, I skipped the rational thought process and went full force. I started looking up everything with the word volunteer, charity and foundation. I searched homeless youth volunteer programs, as well as Animal Shelter’s, Children’s Hospitals, Veteran’s Hospitals, Elderly Care, (just to name a few) and again, the tears came in abundance and they just wouldn’t stop! Not only because I was so sad for all of these men, women, children and animals, but because I was so overwhelmed by the way bigger than I could have ever imagined, need for clothing, food, medication, shelter, canes, shampoo etc!! In my own city!!?? Then the questions took over in the form of a tsunami wave: Where the hell am I supposed to start?! Why are there not more people who want to help? What happened to these families? Why the hell am I not Oprah or Ellen? How the hell am I going to make a difference? Why can’t everyone just give $5-$10? What is my purpose? Should I go join the peace corp? And they continued until I forced myself, literally, to walk away and take a serious deep breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth….for an hour.
It took a moment to get myself back into a clear headed perspective and I decided to have another go-BUT, instead of allowing philanthropic work to intimidate me, I took my time this time to ask myself some questions. What am I most passionate about? Where can I offer my talents, not just in an acting or entertainment sense but an overall sense, so that I can help in the biggest way possible? This helped me find out what I wanted to focus on above all other things. I knew that the truth was, that they were ALL important to me but as with acting and most other things, I needed to take it one step at a time.
Animals, homeless adults and youth and environmental issues were the first few things that came to mind. (Again, I truly believe that every cause IS very important, and you may/may not agree or feel as strongly as I do about certain items, but these are the ones I chose to focus on.) I began slowly researching animal shelters and rescue organizations that needed volunteers and found a branch off called DAW which is great and very much something I could do! I did the same for homeless shelters and actually found a Yelp page with 10 places to volunteer; I know there are many more, but again, taking baby steps. I decided that I will be volunteering to help in any way I can, at least once a week, on a weekly basis.
Between balling my eyes out/feeling every emotion possible, it dawned on me that I was taking the steps to fulfill my New Year’s Resolution, at that very moment and I was on a path towards making a bigger impact. So, while I might not be Angelina Jolie or Audrey Hepburn, yet, taking action is what’s important in my book and that’s exactly what I’m doing! HAPPY #2016! #GiveBack