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Help them help themselves

As a lot of you know I was quite poor during a large part of my life. There were some kind and thoughtful people that helped me financially, with gifts of used furniture, and a few bought me dinner once in a while. These acts were always appreciated and they have my undying gratitude for helping out during a tough time.

In a crisis this is the best kind of giving. If someone runs out of gas, we go take them five gallons and get them back on the road.

During those tough times, there were people that helped me help myself. They gave me thoughtful advice during the toughest times. Additionally, there were some like Doc Nixon who taught me how to paint signs while I hung around his little sign shop watching him paint and my Uncle Tom who taught me how to do simple plumbing and home repairs.

Some of the gifts were intangible, like when my friend Suzanne challenged me to do better with my life. Another friend suggested I could start college at the ripe old age of 43… and another who taught music at the college that offered me a music scholarship to make this dream possible.

These were the people, along with many others who enabled me to climb the ladder of success. They taught me values that aren’t learned ‘on the streets’, and gave me the tools to succeed.

When helping others, whether giving a few dollars to a homeless person, or something less tangible, I have learned to ask myself, “Is there something I can give beyond this that would empower the person to help themselves? As the old saying goes – “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and he will be fed for a lifetime.”

Not only as an individual, but collectively, I think we all need to be more conscious of this. A good example is our public welfare system. Too often it just builds more dependency on the government (us) for support with little assistance for those who would rather support themselves.

Please, give generously, but better still, consider how to help others to help themselves.

Have a great day everyone!