Five Questions to Ask To Prompt Lasting Change.
Especially during holidays and annual milestones, many families put extra emphasis on doing service projects together. Whether it’s filling shoeboxes at Christmas, serving at the homeless shelter during Easter week, or participating in a back to school supply drive, traditions that focus on giving around special occasions seem to fill us with an extra sense of satisfaction.
All of these traditions are well meaning uses of your time and resources, and they set examples for our children to always remember the less fortunate both near and far. But do they make a difference for those you’re trying to serve?
Stop. Think. Change it up.
We’re not trying to wreck your family traditions, but we do want you to stop and think. What if you could spend the same amount of time and money and really change someone’s future? What if you could speak to the child receiving the shoebox in Africa and find out what would really help? What if your yearly homeless shelter tradition turned into a monthly visit, sitting down for a meal after serving it, to make connections, engage, and learn? What if you could meet the little girl you bought school supplies for, and you found out that what she really needs is a warm coat, books to read at home, or a bicycle to get her to school?
Perhaps you’ve had these thoughts before, but dismissed them because you didn’t have the time or information to learn how to do things differently. Here are some tips to help your family make its biggest impact.
New Family Traditions
First, focus on creating one new tradition. As a family, dedicate some time to thinking through the following questions. Go beyond what feels good and challenge yourselves to get outside of your comfort zone.
Who Do You Want To Serve?
Is your passion caring for homeless youth? Is it helping impoverished children in developing countries? Maybe it’s seniors, or the sick, or survivors of abuse and trafficking. The list of those in need is endless; focus on helping those who most touch your family’s heart.
What Do They Need?
If you choose a local issue, brainstorm ways to interact with those you want to help. Find out how you can connect with them, hear their stories, and become a part of their lives. When you meet someone where they are, you begin to discover opportunities for lasting impact, whether that’s in a single conversation, a mentoring relationship, or a job connection. Sometimes the impact is on you and your children, when you challenge your own assumptions and develop a fresh point of view.
What Would I Want in Their Shoes?
If you fell on hard times, would you rather be given a “gift”, or the opportunity to connect with a career mentor over a shared meal as an equal? Impoverished people aren’t different from the rest of us at the core – they want to be able to provide a safe and better future for their children – just like everyone else. Personalize your gifts and gestures, just as you would for your own family.
How Are You Uniquely Qualified to Help?
Many people don’t even realize that they are already uniquely positioned to make a difference. Your community, your employer, your church, and your connections are full of potential. In considering your passion, think about your talents, your resources, and your connections. A solution to an individual’s problem (of employment, housing, or a material item) can come from you, if you’re willing to learn their story and consider the possibility of a future free from poverty.
What Do You Want In Return?