What is the path to happiness? I believe making a difference creates happiness. If you’ve made a difference in someone’s life, you understand what I’m talking about here. The fact you’re even reading the Community Involvement section is a good indication that giving back is important to you!
Giving enhances your experience of life. It feels good. It’s that simple. Contribution is one of our six basic needs, but I believe it goes further than that; I believe that your choice to give or to make a difference can ripple out and transform the lives of countless individuals.
How do you choose to give back? Share your story. In doing so, you could become someone else’s inspiration, hope, and leader.
Here’s part of my story:
I’ve worked as a volunteer to help raise funds for our local cancer center. It was important to me because, as it has for so many, cancer has taken people I love. I lost my best friend to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, my maternal grandmother to bone cancer, and my paternal grandmother to lung cancer.
The death of loved ones, sadly, is something that is beyond our control. While we cannot always control what happens to us, we can influence the effect events have on our lives. We can choose how we respond to those events. I chose to respond with a determination to make a difference by volunteering on a committee dedicated to raising funds for a local cancer centre.
During my ninth year on the committee, I accepted the role of Committee Chair. That year, with the help of a fantastic team and the incredible gala performers—Sarah Brightman and the Canadian Tenors—the event netted close to $500,000 in support of the Durham Regional Cancer Centre. Did it feel good? You bet it did! It was an enriching experience!
Then there was the time I volunteered to help build a playground at a school with Let Them Be Kids. Most of the children attending the school come from extremely low-income families. Until the park was built, all the kids had to play on was a cement lot! Assisting with the build was a heart-warming, fun-filled, and sweaty experience!
One volunteer contribution close to my heart is my work on the Day of Hope and Leadership (DHL) team. DHL was a unique personal, professional and community development day. It was created to help equip, develop and motivate leaders to meet the challenges many face today.
All of the proceeds raised from this annual event directly supported the Hope Centre of Learning at the Oshawa Community Health Centre. The DHL team raised over $650,000. The Centre has put all this money to good use, whether by purchasing personal computers with workstations, including Mac computers, in the effort to utilize new technologies, setting up a “Computers for Kids” program where laptop computers are made available to students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to a computer at home; or providing an after school snack program, since you can’t learn on an empty stomach! During the day, the Hope Centre of Learning (the dream of Dan and Paula Carter) is also used for Alzheimer’s caregiver relief, where arts, crafts, and exercise are part of the program. It encompasses all generations!
Helping to build the playground and volunteering on the DHL team is important to me because, like the kids who benefit today from the playground and the Hope Centre, I grew up in an economically challenged area of my city. In fact, the Hope Centre of Learning is located in the same building where I attended school from Kindergarten to Grade 6. I know what it’s like for many of those kids; knowing I’m making a difference in their lives today is an incredible feeling.
Yes, the path to happiness is to make a difference in the lives of others. Any act of kindness on your part, no matter how small, will be returned in the form of positive, happy feelings in yourself and others—what a way to enhance your and others’ experience of life!