Have you ever been punched in the gut by an interaction with someone? Perhaps a conversation that jerked you right back down to earth?
On Monday, a woman who lives and works on the streets visited my office to wait out the rain. Within minutes, the stories she told me pulled me straight out of my #FirstWorldProblems funk and put me squarely in my place.
The shock of her reality, since childhood, rendered me unable to judge her. I turned inward and began a thorough inventory of how good I have it. I have a huge, loving family who helped me get two college degrees which enabled me to get a job that I love. I have a comfy bed, a cool A/C and access to a hot shower anytime I want one. I have a kitchen full of food, and an unlimited supply of drinking water. I can go to the doctor with the greatest of ease, and my prescriptions are covered by my health insurance. I am literally living the dream.
It’s definitely not the first time I have considered how blessed I am, but it is without a doubt the first time that it terrified me to count those blessings. I know that if any single one of them were not available to me, my life could take a dramatic downturn.
I thank my lucky stars every night, but that’s not enough. I decided a few years ago to pay it forward with every paycheck to make sure those basic necessities like food and shelter are available to those in need in our community.
Anyone reading this knows that there are a many commendable nonprofits that serve our community’s needs. But, it would be impossible for me to give to all of them separately.
So, I do it the old-fashioned way: I give to the United Way. I know the United Way gives to 24 agencies that serve Galveston Island. Instead of having to pick just one or two, I am able to support all of the causes that I hold dear. I can buy someone a meal, and help a child get a high-quality preschool education while her mother works to pay rent, and help a person struggling with mental illness receive treatment.
Giving to the United Way also makes it easy for me to make my contribution continue all year long. My donation to United Way will help people in Galveston with basic needs like food and shelter, and also provide long-term solutions in the forms of early childhood education and mentoring to create a brighter future.
I invite you to join the fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. Give through your workplace United Way Campaign, or contact me to help you get one started. If you can’t participate through your employer, visit our website to set up a recurring monthly donation. United Way makes it easy for you to live every day like it’s Giving Tuesday.