Last week, I had the huge privilege of joining the team to do some community work at a school in Essex, London. Two of our team members were allocating work on the spot and they were totally on the ball.
When I arrived, looking distinctly shorter in my trainers, they promptly allocated me & another girl, Rita* to paint the wall in the children’s playground. I heard them speak, ‘she wont reach the top of the shed’. The wall was better suited to my little height : )
Before I knew it, we were given some acrylic colours, brushes, coffee, cheese puffs and pretty much locked in. The playground had to be secured because that was where the children came to play in the break time.
There were two walls. Rita and I took one each. She chose to go with a blue and red palette while I selected the shades of the rainbow (given that I was painting a rainbow) and kept going on with the colourful theme.
The children stopped by at break times. They were enjoying the banter by the wall, somewhat like the water cooler chats. It was lovely to hear them discuss the wall; even instruct us. One said that I should paint the balloon red (don’t ask me why, I listened anyway) and the other refused to go and play until I began the yellow on the rainbow – maybe he associated that as some sort of project milestone.
I was trying to engage and asked if they watched ‘Little Lunches’. One effort was all it took. After that, they promptly told us of their favourite characters and episodes. Even their favourite place on the Earth, past holidays, future holidays, even their budgets! One had collected £20 and said she wondered if she should put it in a bank or leave it at home.
Later, more team members joined us because we were still too short for top row of letters. They said there weren’t any ladders but there was a John*. We each played to our strengths! John didn’t like the kids much though, he was keen on telling them horror stories so they would stop bothering him.
It was a great day overall and we came away feeling exhausted yet so fulfilled.
At such times, you wonder, what is it about doing for the others that makes us feel so good about ourselves? Here is my two pence worth.
1. Feeding Gratitude Vs. Ego:
You might have heard the story of the two wolves. As per the story, there are two wolves inside us all; one is for ego and greed while the other is for gratitude and love. Per the story, the wolf you feed, is the one that wins.
This was the case of feeding the wolf that stood for gratitude and generosity. It is somewhat different to most other days because although we mean well, in the need to make ends meet, stand out, achieve things, stay ahead, this wolf might get a little ignored.
Many of us give as we go such as making donations through crowdfunding platforms, even monthly direct debits. Yet, making time specifically to give back by engaging personally, is difficult yet important.
2. Who stands to benefit?
Often, when doing anything for charity, we feel that we have really benefited the community – after all, we have put aside time, sometimes even money, sometimes to support people we don’t even know.
Often in that exchange though, charity benefits the giver more than the receiver. It gives us a sense of grounding, a sense of connectedness with our community and a greater sense of self-worth. I understand that making money isn’t always easy, yet bringing genuine smiles to peoples lives is just that little bit harder.
It is a huge privilege to be able to provide – be it care, fun, smiles, food, money, education – giving is good for the soul. I trust that at some point in life you have all given or continue to give with the purest of emotions and know exactly what I am talking about.
‘We can do no great things, only small things with love.’
So make some time. Some time to give back and feed your gratitude.
My time spent painting the rainbow was well worth it because in the smiles of the children, I found my pot of gold!
Where will you find your next pot of gold?
*Names have been changed for privacy
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