My 3.5 ways to give back

Do you consider yourself lucky for the things you have and how far you’ve come in life? I sure do.

Looking back, it is so easy to see where people have helped me when I needed it most and just how far that went in helping me reach new levels in my life. Sometimes the help was a few dollars, or a place to stay; other times it was good, solid advice. But the one thing that every person had in common who helped me was that they insisted that I pass it on. I’m still trying to do that.

If you were inspired by my last article, My 3.5 reasons to give back, and are looking for a means in which to contribute, or some way that you can make a difference, here are some ideas:

1. Time: Time is one of the most precious things we have in our lives because there is a limited amount, and we really have no idea how much we actually get! Because time is so finite for us all, it is THE MOST valuable thing we can possibly give to someone else! For instance, if you were a “Big Brother” or a “Big Sister,” you give only an hour or more per month. That might not sound like a lot, but those hours add up quick for a kid who needs a strong role model.

The best way to do this is to think about what’s most important to you and look for a way to volunteer in that area. If you miss you grandparents and always thought it would have been nice to learn more from them, then look towards a nursing home. Perhaps animals touch your heart or you have a deep compassion for people who are homeless. Whatever calls to you, and you have the time, find a way to give a few hours each month. There are many nonprofits that need your time and help desperately.

2. Knowledge: You may not always have time in your life to donate, so you’ll need to look to give back in other ways. There may be someone at your place of work, your church or among your friends who might need help learning something new, and you possess the ability to help them gain that knowledge. What special skills do you have? Computers, carpentry, cars? What experiences have you had? Have you dealt with the death of a loved one or gotten over a drug or alcohol addiction? What professional qualifications do you possess? Are you good at teaching sales or marketing? Making a list of your skills and abilities will help you discover what it is that you can pass on to someone else when the time comes.

Like the saying goes, when the teacher is ready…the student appears.

3. Money: There are many, many causes out there that legitimately need money to run their operation and give people the help they need. Look at Denver Options. They serve adults with mental disabilities and brain injuries. These people are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and neighbors who have limited opportunities. Look at South Platte Humane Society; they take in what have been unfairly labeled as dangerous dogs. While other such places simply euthanize them, South Platte cares for them physically, medically and socially they can find a good home for the dog for as long as it takes. Look at Boys Hope Girls Hope. They run programs designed to get kids to improve their lives through mentorship as well as better education. All of these non-profit organizations require money to keep their lights on, the water running, the phones working and to pay for the salaries for the people who make “giving back” their life’s work. So if you feel that just by donating money that you’re copping-out the easy way, think again.

3.5 Anonymously: Another way to give back is to do so anonymously. Here’s a simple way: If a friend is going through a hard time, leave a card of inspiration on their car windshield so they’ll get it first thing in the morning. Collect canned goods or blankets for a charity and have someone else drop it off.  Another idea: Put cash each month into a poor box at your local church.

Research has shown that when you give to others, you actually change your physiological state and get those natural, feel-good chemicals called endorphins coursing through your body. It is also proven that giving back helps decrease blood pressure and lowers your stress level. But remember the most important rule when giving anonymously- you don’t get to take the credit for it!

Now that you have a few ideas on ways to give back, go for it!