A thirtysomething latino man with dark wavy hair and a trimmed mustache sits alone at a table with a small, spiral note pad. He meticulously goes through some notes and scribbles down fresh revelations or inspirations as they come to him.
He’s dressed in a nice pair of jeans, a crisp, blue button-down shirt and wears practical, dark, laced up shoes. He grabs his phone from his back pocket and dials. When someone on the other line answers, he speaks:
Hello? Yes, mmm…my… name is Eeer…nn…est…to. I’m ccc… calling abb…about tthh.. the aa… part… mmm… ent.
He’s boisterous and I try to avoid glancing over because I know other people in the dining area are staring at him. Ernesto sits directly across from me, so it’s difficult not to listen in on his conversation as the volume of his voice increases when the person on the other end of the line is having a hard time understanding him.
I’m… ccc… calling aaa… about… th…th… the aa…app…part… mm… ment.
Anyone who has lived in Los Angeles knows how difficult it is to find an apartment in and around the city. It’s a monumental task for most of us; not only to find an apartment, but to find something affordable can be challenging.
Los Angeles homelessness is surging with nearly 60,000 people in LA county alone. A whopping 47% of unsheltered homelessness individuals are found in the state of California, the highest in the country.*
Tears brim my eyes. I don’t know why I was so emotional; maybe it’s because before me was someone struggling and there isn’t much I can do. So I do the only thing I can think of that may be of some help; I pray for him.
I’m perplexed as to why I was so moved, but sometimes strangers can wake us up to the wider scope of our lives, showing us things about ourselves that are in need of attention or encouraging us in another direction.
I reflect upon this, the state of our country and the world. In a time of great division where many are suffering, this is when in our rawness and vulnerability we need each other the most. One way we can create unity is through giving.
Studies have shown when one gives, one receives even more in return.
Here are some benefits to giving:
- A feeling of happiness and release of depression.
- Helps in alleviating stress.
- Improves sense of self and self-worth.
- Improves one’s energy.
- Gives one a sense of purpose.
During the holiday season, it can be a challenging time for many, so I did something different.
This year, instead of giving gifts, I’ve asked friends if they’d be willing for us to contribute to a charity or non-profit we both feel passionate about and wanted to support. They loved the idea. Here are a few from my list.
These two websites below offer a list of charities and non-profits to choose from throughout the United States.
Here are a few non-profits and charities I’ve donated to and who are doing wonderful work around the world.
Save the Children
- Save the Children helps children around the world with health, education and protection.
- Oxfam has a wide range of services, including ending poverty, gender inequality, local disaster response, and climate change.
- Care helps in the elimination of poverty and advocates social justice.
There are many charities and non-profits within the US and around the world. If you find one that resonates with what you’re passionate about, see if you can offer help and brighten someone’s holiday.
Another option is to volunteer at a local shelter, mission, or soup kitchen. Most people who work in these facilities welcome any help or acts of kindness.
Not only are you extending a hand to someone in need, but it can also help one feel more aligned and inclusive within their community.
If you’re feeling isolated or alone, reach out to a friend or family member and spend quality time with them.
More and more people are yearning for quality experiences versus material items during the holidays.
Spending time with a dear friend can uplift one’s spirit and also help gain perspective on areas that may seem overwhelming. It can also provide comfort and hope.
Peace and Good Will to All
May we fill our hearts with kindness, love, and compassion during this holiday season, and as this decade draws to a close, let us come together in peace.
Peace and blessings,
P.S. Thank you to my family, friends, and colleagues. You have added to my life in wondrous ways! I am truly grateful.
* courtesy of Los Angeles Almanac at the time of this writing.