Tag Archives: volunteering

Paying it forward – A Cascade of Cooperation

“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed.  A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”~
Amelia Earhart 1897 – 1937, American aviation pioneer and author.

Many of you may have seen the movie ‘Pay It Forward’ based on the novel of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  Some like me, will have read the book.

This is a moving story about Trevor McKinney a 12-year-old boy in a small town.  His teacher gives the class a challenge and a chance to earn extra credit.  They have to come up with a plan to change the world for the better.  And they must put the plan into action.

Trevor does a favor for three people and when they ask how they can pay him back he tells them that instead of paying him back they should pay it forward.  They need to choose three people for whom they can do a favor and then tell those people to pay it forward.  I have seen it described as a human chain letter.

One good deed might not seem like much, but if everyone does something for even one other person then the cycle begins and like a pebble in a pond, will grow exponentially.  Hopefully in this way we can become better people with the world a better place in which to live.

In a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 22 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote:

“I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you  meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.”

But one person can make a difference and the ripple effect can go on and on.  Look at this video to see how one man’s action started a chain reaction that changed the lives of seven other people.

I was reminded of this yesterday.  I had parked in town and thought I should be longer than I actually was.  When I returned to my car there was still 45 minutes unused on the ticket.  I offered it to the person waiting to take my park.  This woman was amazed that I would do this.  I suggested that in future if she found herself in the same situation she give the unused portion of parking to another person.  Hopefully she will do so.  Imagine the ripples of something this small.

Then think of other things to do.  I am a very active senior and so I can get about and do things for myself.  But others are not so lucky.

  • Can I take them to the store or go to the store for them?
  • Can I pick up somebody from my street who is walking to the store?
  • Can I pay for the coffee of another person in the store?
  • Can I put some change in a parking meter (we still have them in some streets in our city) when I see that the meter is expired?
  • Can I drive somebody to a doctor’s appointment – or a dentist or whatever?

The list is endless.  And none of these things cost a lot of money.

And what about volunteering?  Every charitable organization needs volunteers.  How can you help?  Can you give time to serve meals; read stories; help people in the final stages of their life write their stories?  There are plenty of things we can each do to make this a better time and place.

And if in helping somebody, that deed is recognized and passed on, we have made a start in the right direction.

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.  ~Author Unknown

And another quote from my favorite author Lewis Carroll but this time from ‘Through the Looking Glass”

“Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

And here is a gift for all of you who will pay it forward today:

Bouquet of roses



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Living, Caring, Sharing and Volunteering

MPH Logo

Today I turned up to the local hospice for my first day as a volunteer.  I felt like the new kid on the first day at school.  I had no idea what to expect although I knew that I was helping distribute the lunches to the patients.

Volunteering has always been part of my life from membership on various committees to being a part of the Breast Cancer Support System and being a member of the Executive Board of the Cancer Society Wellington branch.

My involvement with the Mary Potter Hospice goes back many years to a time when the hospice was located in the then named Calvary Hospital in Wellington.  The hospital was run by a nursing order The Little Sisters of Mary and the ground floor housed 24 beds that were given over to the terminally ill.  I remember pushing the drinks trolley around before dinner for the patients, way back when we first arrived in Wellington.

The hospice was forced to shift premises and the people of Wellington through the Mary Potter Foundation raised $6.3million to build a new hospice.  This was in the late 80s shortly after the share market crash.  And it was a huge sum to be raised by such a small community.

My late husband was on the Finance Board and was involved in much fund-raising.  My daughter and I, not to be left out of any of his activities, organized and ran a ‘fun-run’.  If that isn’t an oxymoron then I don’t know what is.

So now to 2011.  Last week I met with the Volunteer Manager who showed me around the place, seemed to be impressed with what I had done and what I could do and asked whether just for starters, I could help with lunches on Thursday as one of the volunteers was seriously ill in hospital.  Of course I said yes.  I turned up as required shortly after 11 am this morning not knowing what to expect.

The support organization, office staff, fund-raisers, maintenance and ground staff, kitchen staff etc, etc is all run as a business.

The caring is run as it should be.  Nothing appears to be too much trouble for any of the staff involved with the patients.  And those volunteers that I met today were equally caring.

There was sadness as while I was there one man died.  I am told it was not unexpected but there was great respect shown by everybody on the floor when his body was moved from his room.  Everybody stood up and all the doors to other areas, patients rooms, offices etc were closed as the body was wheeled out.

My job was to assist the person delivering the meals.  The meals are all prepared and cooked on the premises by a first class cook.  He said he wasn’t a chef ‘just a cook’.  Prior to the meal service patients were asked would they like a drink before lunch.  There is a full choice of spirits, wines, soft drinks and sodas.  The idea is to make it as much like patients’ routines at home as possible.

Then lunch.  Soup and bread was served amidst some laughter and jokes. Each tray held a posy of flowers prepared by another group of volunteers.

We then went down to the kitchen to get the main meal.  Today this was braised sausages, with choice of boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, roast pumpkin and a medley of zucchini, tomatoes and onions.  All beautifully presented to the patients.

While the patients had their lunch we went to the cafe and had ours. Then it was time to remove the patients’ lunch plates (having removed the soup cups and plates before taking in the lunch) and offer desert.

Desert consisted of fresh fruit salad, jelly, ice cream and fresh cream.  Most people welcomed that even those who had only had soup beforehand.

I was amazed at the fortitude with which some people face their impending death; with the good humor that prevailed in the hospice, and the love and caring of the staff and the respect for all that is shown there,

I shall certainly return next week to do lunches again.

Today’s quote is

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803- 1882. American lecturer, philosopher, essayist, and poet.

More information on the hospice movement may be found by clicking here