There is no end to the many ways in which people can reach out to help others. Our friend Marty participates in the annual Polar Bear Plunge. Men and women dive into the Chesapeake Bay when the water temperature is a freezing 32 degrees to raise money for Maryland's Special Olympics. As supporters each year, we are sent a hilarious picture of Marty freezing his *** off. In spite of the really uncomfortable temperature, he is always smiling as he "dives for dollars."
A woman I know rounded up her friends and started crafting handmade bears. Called "Dale Bears," each is fashioned primarily from donated clothes, jewelry and other castoffs. Then it is given a name and a story. For example, an old dishtowel from Santa Fe becomes a bear named Tucson, who sports a feather necklace and turquoise earrings (and makes pottery in her spare time). These stuffed animals for grown-ups are "beary cute," and since all the proceeds from the sales of the bears go to a nonprofit group—The House of Ruth, whose mission is to end domestic violence—they make a difference in the lives of many women.
I recently learned about a group of women and girls who have named themselves GEM (and all the girls are gems!) and are collecting shampoos, soap and miscellaneous personal care items (you know, all those bottles we collect from hotels and motels) to make basic self-care bags for women who are being sheltered from abusive husbands and boyfriends.
A story of the power we possess when people work together recently brought me to tears. CBS Evening News covered a human chain made up of 30 people who were rescuing five beachgoers from a riptide in Bloomington Point Beach, Prince Edward Island. The five swimmers were enjoying the afternoon in the water when suddenly the rip yanked their footing out from under them and pulled them, quickly and without warning, into deep water. The swimmers could have drowned, but bystanders linked their arms, formed a long line and, after nearly an hour, managed to pull every one of them to safety. Strangers and friends pulled together, connected, arm by arm, and found the strength to rescue all those people. Imagine a world where this loving, thoughtful, intuitive, innovative and powerful force was used to solve all our problems.
My friend Maureen was ready to retire, but didn't want to stop working. She wanted to do work that mattered and that made a difference, so she started an organization called Our Journey. Asking friends and family to give what they could, she raised enough money to travel to and live in South Africa for a year while working in an orphanage with babies with AIDS or HIV. Most of the little ones are without parents, and most are without hope. Maureen provides both parenting and optimism to those precious children. Her online journal connects her to friends and supporters, helping to keep us on "our journey" together.