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August 18, 2009

Difference Makers - Part I

A couple weeks ago I posed the question, "What are you contributing?" I want to thank the handful of people who shared their thoughts and reflections about that post. As silly as it may sound, that post made me stop and think about all the people I've met (and are still meeting) who are making a difference in this world.

There are people like my mom -- the kind of people who make a difference and probably never even stop to consider it. They just live their lives, and their actions and attitudes make other people smile.

There are volunteers and philanthropists who support causes with gifts of time, talent and treasure. Having spent several years working in fundraising for a college, I never ceased to be humbled by donors who supported the college's mission. Every donor, whether their gift was big or small, made a difference -- and these generous people inspired me to really think differently about my own charitable giving. Though I'm not by any means what would be considered a "major donor," I give what I can to the organizations that are nearest and dearest to my heart -- and when I give, I always try to "reach." You see, even when the amounts aren't huge, every time someone "reaches" someone (or maybe more) is impacted by their generosity.

I offer this as an example. Supposing 2000 people committed to giving a college $25 to go towards financial aid. Basic math -- that's $50,000.

As the mother of a college-bound freshman, I can tell you -- for sure -- that even a fraction of that amount would be a burden lifted. For some families, it could be the difference between being able to attend college or not.

Now stop for a moment, and think with me.

What if just half of those 2000 people decided that, above and beyond the $25 gift, they would sacrifice one latte a month for the cause. At $3.50 per month, that would be an additional $42 per person per year per person.

[$25 x 2000 = $50,000] + [$42 X 1000 = $42,000]

= $92,000 for financial aid

WOW -- talk about making a difference....and all because 1000 people sacrificed a latte a month for a year.

But let me take this one step further. No, I'm not going to suggest that 3,000 people made this effort, or that people sacrificed two lattes -- that's just basic math and you could figure it out yourself.

Instead I want to talk about the ripple effect of good deeds. The people you know, and those you may never know, who will be inspired to act because of your actions.

Maybe your good deeds will inspire volunteerism or philanthropy -- or maybe they'll inspire more good deeds...or a positive attitude...or self-love. With all those good deeds going 'round, the good that you put out there couldn't help but come back to you.

Before I wrap up, I want to introduce you to someone who I've gotten to know, who I consider a real difference maker. I've never actually met this woman, I've merely read her words, and listened to her podcasts. With every post Tabitha inspires me to be more present in my life. To give. To share. To laugh. To appreciate. To choose a life of bliss.

Tabitha has a great story of overcoming many challenges in her life -- and turning obstacles into opportunities. Her life is all about doing right by others, and her kindness is positively contagious. She doesn't know it (yet) but she inspired me to sign up with an organization called Spirit Jump. I'll write more about Spirit Jump in Difference Makers - Part II -- but for now, suffice it to say, that Tabitha's inspiration is a great example of the ripple effect of good deeds.

I hope you'll take a moment to visit Tabitha's blog -- and if you have a few minutes, listen to her most recent podcast (there are a total of five podcasts that you can find on her blog, but this one she released today really hit home for me). Not only does Tabitha have a voice that's smooth as silk, but with each podcast she provides food for thought -- and nourishment for the soul.

So how about you -- who or what has inspired you in your lifetime?

Feel free to share links to the organizations that you believe in. You just never know -- your comment may just be the pebble in the pond to start a ripple effect of its own!


Anonymous said...

Lauren, I am humbled beyond belief! I am so grateful and honored. Thank You Thank You :)

Velva said...

Your blog post is a reminder that every person can make a difference in someone's life. Thanks for sharing!