I recently saw something unfold online that really struck a chord.
On a popular neighborhood social media page, I read a story about a family in need. This family’s matriarch, a hard-working, low-income grandmother, had recently opened up to a random customer about how she was struggling to care for her three grandkids. Living in a motel room. Lack of food, clothing, necessities. No spare money. She shared all of this with the customer, a complete stranger.
That stranger then posted the story to Facebook with a simple plea: “How can I help her?”
The responses flooded in.
Other people raised their hands to provide food, gift cards, money, clothing…everything. There was no official nonprofit or agency leading the effort, no public recognition for giving – just several compassionate individuals acting quickly to help a fellow human in need.
Even after years of witnessing kindness through my work with nonprofits, I was struck by this sheer act of compassion and selflessness. I was driven to further explore the topic of caring for others, and ourselves, during the holidays.
I turned to Tracy Hitchcock, our Director of Business Development/former nonprofit CEO/resident community-builder, to co-create a short, attainable list of ways to show up this season for others and ourselves.
Be Active, Get Outside
Your parents have been saying it since age 8. Exercise and fresh air always make you feel better. It helps to combat stress and depression and uplift mood. And while you’re on that walk, be it alone or with a friend, be mindful of your thoughts/conversation. Think about what you’re grateful for, where others might need your help, and ways you’re going to support yourself and your neighbors in need in 2020.
Rest, Relax . . . and Sleep!
You hear people talk about “hitting that reset button” this time of year. Yet, this is the season when we’re socializing more, spending more, eating and drinking more . . . and sleeping less! Make more time for that much needed R&R and shut-eye, and put your home on “airplane mode” by following these dos and don’ts:
- DON’T get lost in the less important details of the holidays, like finding that perfect gift or making the best meal or keeping the house clean.
- DON’T beat yourself up for spending too much time on the sofa.
- DO remove less important obligations from your calendar.
- DO turn off the TV and light the candles.
- DO power down the phone and take a break from social media.
- DO laugh a lot and focus on gratitude.
And put on some B-B-B-Bing. Nobody croons you into a lull better than Mr. Crosby
Illustrated in the story above, truly helping someone starts with listening. Open your mind, put away judgement, and actively listen to best understand what a loved one (or stranger) needs. If you’re listening, they’re often subtly telling you how you can help. Regardless of the subtleties, be sure to ask the person in front of you, “How can I help? What can I do to support you?” These simple questions almost always push someone to open up more and provide clear direction on how you can provide simple, yet impactful, support.
Ask For Help
In addition to asking how you can help others, be sure to check in on your own needs. We all have stressors such as work demands, unemployment, money, family/relationships, illness, etc. Even all of the positive stuff this time of year can add up and take a toll in terms of time and stress.
When it gets to feeling like a bit too much, it’s important to ask for help for ourselves, too. Ask for time with someone who knows and supports you, ask for help with meals or childcare, or if you’re feeling alone or lonely, pick up the phone.
And finally . . .
Turn to the Professionals
We live in a community where there are hundreds of supports and services available (Idaho rocks!). However, not everyone is aware of these great resources.
Here’s a round-up of several organizations Tracy and I recommend you seek for that quick referral or support.
Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline / caring, trained people to talk with whether you’re concerned for someone else or yourself
Children’s Home Society / counseling services for kids
NAMI Idaho (National Alliance on Mental Illness) / classes, support groups and resources for people of all ages
Connection & Camaraderie:
Fort Boise Community Center / activities for kids, teens and adults
Fort Boise Senior Center / activities for folks 55 and older
Family Advocates Family Strengthening /classes for parents to learn the ropes, meals are provided
City of Boise, Parks & Recreation / activities, classes and sports for kids & adults
Treasure Valley Family YMCA / a variety of programs for kids and adults
St. Vincent de Paul / assistance with securing food, housing expenses, clothing, furniture, and other basic human needs
Boise School District Community Schools / support and educational services for student, mom, dad, guardian, and the whole family
Idaho Food Bank / emergency food assistance at easy-to-access locations
Our Path Home / a starting point for families seeking support
Jesse Tree / helps bridge the gap when money falls short and rent is a stretch.
Faces of Hope / counseling and emergency services for adults and kids who are being hurt
Women’s and Children’s Alliance / shelter, counseling, and wrap-around services for kids and adults