Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Make a Difference (every) Day!

This coming Saturday, October 24th is Make a Difference Day. It is the national day of helping others started by USA Weekend Magazine 19 years ago. Last year, 3 million people volunteered in their communities making a difference for their neighbors in need. This year I challenge each of us to make a difference on not just one day, but every day of the year. Quite a challenge or an opportunity, depending on how you look at it. Many of you already influence those in our community by volunteering, so now I ask you to encourage those around you, especially your children, to join you in giving of your time, resources and talents to those in need.

This summer, as part of our "Girls Just Want to Have Fun Camp," my daughter and her friends spent a day volunteering. They began the day making dozens of cookies and cards to be delivered to residents of the Vista Oaks Retirement Center in Lakeway. The girls had a wonderful, although somewhat messy, time in the kitchen and made some fabulous memories delivering the handmade goodies and visiting with the residents.

Later that afternoon, the girls took groceries they had collected from their friends and neighbors to the Lake Travis Crisis Ministries food pantry. They worked with food pantry volunteers, Helen Howard and Dorothy Boddeker, stocking the shelves and getting bags ready for the LT Crisis Ministry clients. Although it was a busy and tiring day, it is my hope that the seed for helping others was planted, and that by providing the girls more volunteer opportunities and much encouragement, they will grow their own altruistic spirit.

So how do you make your difference felt within our community on a daily basis? Sometimes it's as easy as a sharing a smile with the clerk at the dry cleaners, speaking a kind word to the harried mother at the grocery store, or extending a helping hand to an elderly neighbor. Sometimes however, the needs are greater. In fact, you may not be aware that there are many, maybe even too many peoople in need right here in Lake Travis.

Our LTISD schools , community libraries and churches always have a need for volunteers to help with a variety of projects and programs. If you are looking to share your time, these are very good places to start.

On November 1st, many folks will be participating in the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure. I'm even thinking about walking for the first time myself this year! I have several friends that have walked in years past, and have raised funds to support the effort for more cancer research. If this sounds like a match for you, perhaps I will see you at the starting line!

If you have a passion for the homeless, contact Mobile Loaves and Fishes to see how you can get involved. Do you speak Spanish? If so, you may be just the person that Principios Chiquitos Hispanic Ministries through the Lake Travis United Methodist Church is looking for to join their English as a second language program for families in our area. Supporting our troops may be what inspires you to volunteer. Operation Interdependence may be your place to make a difference. The group meets once a month at the Lakeway Church to pack boxes to be sent to our service men and women.

These are just some of the volunteer opportunities available in our area. Heed the call to make a difference by helping others. Make it a priority in your life and your family's life to reach beyond your comfort zone, extend the boundaries of your circle to include those that are not yet your friends, and encourage each other to use your unique talents, resources and gifts to better the lives of those in need.

Never doubt that you have much to give. Listen to your heart and find a place where you can make a difference in the Lake Travis Community every day!