“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view- until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
― Harper Lee (Author), To Kill a Mockingbird.
Okay, I’m going to be honest from the outset, I am the Not For Profit Queen (if ever there was one!) What nails it for me is seeing those that are vulnerable thrive, and showing others a pathway to social responsibility. One of my earliest memories is from when I was six years old, and a boy in a wheelchair enrolled at our school. I was deeply troubled after his first day, my childish brain wondering how he’d navigate all the stairs. I mentally put on these boys shoes as a 6 year old, walked around in them and decided to act. I spoke with my teacher, demanding reassurance that this new student would be given the same access to the buildings in the school as anyone else. Back then I thought it was just about access to buildings – now I know it’s access to opportunities, regardless of the opposing giant.
My journey to the world of charities has not been traditional. I’m a registered nurse, and my husband and I have our own business. I’ve ran as a candidate in the last Federal election, I’m a local councilor in my municipality and, at the time of writing this article, I am the Tasmanian State Manager for Special Olympics, Founding Director of Brave Foundation and ambassador for the Small Steps program (accommodation and support for teen parents), past Mother of the Year for Australia among many other philanthropic ventures.
We have all heard the saying ‘talk is cheap’, and in regards to social responsibility it is. It’s one thing to think about helping someone, or talk about doing good, but it doesn’t make any difference until we do something about it. And putting talk into action makes you feel better too! Your heart will be moved. You may feel awkward, but alive, and you’ll feel better for it.
2014 is a time of social revolution in our communities and it starts in you and your workplace.
Earlier this year I met with our lawyer for Brave Foundation. We have gone over and above our fundraising goals for the past year and I was telling him about the growth of our charity. It was a great meeting.
My lawyer said to me that this is why he chose to practice law with NFPs, sure he could earn more money elsewhere, but this is changing lives.
He then shared a story about a client of his who owned a pizza shop in suburban Melbourne. A homeless man used to spend his time out the front of the shop.
On this particular day the shop owner knew he couldn’t just ignore this homeless man again. He did something new, put an action to his thoughts and made this gentleman a healthy pizza. The homeless man was incredibly grateful and said didn’t know the last time he’d had a hot meal in a clean container. Imagine that: the simple gift of a hot, clean meal.
The following day, the pizza shop owner was out the back of his shop. He heard the tingle of his tip jar out the front of his shop. His immediate thought was that someone was stealing his tips. He went to the front of he store and saw the homeless man emptying a pocket full of change that he had collected from people or found into the shop’s tip jar.
The pizza man got onto our lawyer and is now starting up a charity – making homeless people healthy pizzas.
Sir Winston Churchill said, “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.
So back to my classmate in preps, yes the school did make plans to help him and added ramps. I knew right then and there in my heart that I wanted to help people.
Action it. You are creating the world I want to live in. Go get messy – it’s worth it.