Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Best Part of 2010 or Why I Became Passionate About Giving

As I finished putting the final touches on a few projects this morning, my mind began reflecting on what has transpired over the past twelve months. As I realized how many positive changes had occurred in 2010, I began to ponder which experiences were most rewarding. The practice of counting my blessings in recent years has enriched my life tenfold.

Where I once worked "behind the curtain" in the conference/audio-visual field, I now found myself publishing content to the web on various news sites. Suddenly I was the lead marketer for the young online marketing group I work for. I met an astounding amount of talented, generous Austin folks who literally restored my faith in humanity. I realize that sounds bombastic, but it's true. Austin has a way of healing the soul.

Back in January I made a list of goals for 2010. Revisiting those goals periodically did wonders for my focus and perseverance. I recommend this technique (if you can call it that) to anyone desiring to obtain results in their career and life. One of the top priorities a year ago was supporting my chosen charity, Meals on Wheels and More.

I recently joined a group called Austin Involved comprised of local professionals who want to find out more about the charities they're donating to. We selected MOWAM to be our charity in November. Our collective dollars would go to this deserving local delivered food provider (among other services). Board member and founder, Courtney Clark explained the group would be helping a client clean and fix-up their home which due to the occupant's age, had fallen into disrepair.

The week of our volunteer day, Courtney informed us MOWAM had asked us to deliver meals as well. Now I was really excited. I had tweeted, written about, advised, raised funds for and spoken to folks about Meals on Wheels. But I had never "driven a route". We met with Sarah Andrews and other staffers at MOWAM who reviewed the procedures we needed to follow when delivering food to clients (I love that they're clients). Then we divided into teams of two, gathered food bags, maps and final instructions before heading off to various points of Austin.

Courtney was following in her car and promised to catch up to Brooke and I on our route to take pictures. The experience was more than rewarding. I spent part of my day helping others who were thankful for the assistance. The folks who joined me in volunteering were a pleasure to be around. The manner in which MOWAM clients were treated is dignified and friendly. It felt great meeting and helping my neighbors. There was nothing artificial about the emotion. It was real.

The best part about volunteering is acknowledging the abundance we have in our own lives. Sharing a bit of our abundance with our neighbors only makes Austin shine a little more. It made me think of the lines from My Morning Jacket's song, "Librarian"

"What is it inside our heads that makes us do the opposite
Makes us do the opposite of what's right, for us?
'Cause everything'd be great. And everything'd be good
If everybody gave, like everybody could"
~My Morning Jacket

To find out more about Meals on Wheels and how to donate or volunteer, click here.