If I had to choose the most important lesson my mother has taught me, it is to have compassion for those less fortunate. Growing up, the act of giving back to the community was demonstrated so clearly by my parents. When I was much younger, before my brothers were born, my mom would convince me to part with toys I had moved on from by saying, “you will feel a genuine sense of happiness when you give to those who have less than we do.” The elementary-aged me was skeptical, but went along with letting go of my toys and clothes that no longer fit. In middle school, Mom and I joined National Charity League, a mother-daughter philanthropic organization, which I had the pleasure of serving in until graduating from high school. As the years have passed, Mom’s words have rung true: helping others makes my heart so happy in a way that nothing else does.
For a number of months now, I have been wanting to volunteer at an organization in the city. Ideally, I would find an organization that will allow me to use my native Spanish to somehow help the large Hispanic population in Chicago. What I am embarrassed to admit is that, despite having expressed my intention to volunteer to several different people, I have not started researching potential volunteer positions in earnest.
As God would have it, yesterday I received communication from a client I worked with during my time as a paralegal. This lady is near and dear to my heart; she and her husband are Mexican immigrants with three school-aged daughters. After addressing matters of business, we would oftentimes continue to chat, sharing small bits of our personal lives here and there. She has hosted my husband and I for a meal at her home. Recently, she has come to mind more times than I would like to admit; each time I put off contacting her, which led to a sense of mounting guilt for continuing to not act on my urge to reach out. When I heard from her yesterday, I knew it was time to rekindle our friendship. We caught each other up on recent happenings in our lives, then she shared the biggest news of all: her seventeen year-old daughter is currently pregnant, in her third trimester. It was all I could do to choke back the tears–I know this family does not have much, and now, adding a mouth to feed and a young mother… After she uttered the words, all I could think was, “this is it, this is my opportunity to help. Thank you, God.” We hung up and I immediately began making a mental list of all the items families with newborns need, and what small amount we could afford to chip in to purchase items on this elaborate list.
I poured my heart out to P about this last night, as tears also poured from my eyes. What a change of perspective! Despite my compromised health, God has given P and me blessings beyond measure. P is wonderful and of course encouraged my philanthropic spirit while gently reminding me that we remain a one-income household–we can give, but there are financial limits. We have decided to help in small ways, within our current constraints.
This morning I began my service to this family by saying a prayer for them and the baby on the way. My heart is filled with joy.