Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Triple Dose of Inspiration

"Life is not about you -- it's about what you can do for someone else."
- Johnnie Bass, program director at The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County's Staples Family Center

I had an extremely long and busy week, but what made it meaningful is that I attended three events that were both extremely motivational and inspirational. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm an empathetic sap and it doesn't take much to put a lump in my throat! But, the events I attended confirmed the old cliche that love really does make the world go 'round.

My first inspiring event of the week was the Washtenaw Community College Foundation Women's Council luncheon in Ann Arbor. The annual luncheon honors three local "unsung heroes" who quietly add to their community with a "can do" attitude, hard work, creativity and intelligence. Two of the women honored this year, Johnnie Bass and Ginny Johansen, have put forth much time and energy throughout the years to serve The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County. Johnnie has spent the past 12 years of her life helping women and their families who have encountered difficult situations get back on their feet as program director at the Staples Family Center, a 90-day homeless shelter operated by TSA-WC. Ginny spent years on the advisory board of TSA-WC and has dedicated her life to providing education and help to those who need it most. These two women were so humbled and gracious for these awards. They do what they do because they are truly passionate about serving those in need, so listening to their words as they accepted their "unsung hero" awards definitely brought a majority of the audience to tears. It was great to witness a community come together to honor and celebrate the selflessness and hard work of these women, and I was proud to be there on behalf of TSA-WC to celebrate with them.

Event number two -- the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus presents Bellobration. Yes I know, it's the circus..and how the heck can the circus be inspiring? Let me explain. L-Pan and I had the opportunity to travel to Columbus and see the Bellobration circus event (work-related, not purely for our personal enjoyment!) After the show, we got to chat it up with some of the performers in the show. Lauren and I sat with Tina and Brian Miser, the human cannonballs who literally end the show with a bang when they shoot out of a ginormous cannon. What I found to be most inspiring about them is that they are raising their four-year-old daughter Skylar at the same time as they are performing 50 weeks out of every year in the circus. The best part is that they absolutely love it. Most people would find it really difficult, and even somewhat strange, to want to raise children while touring with a circus. But Tina and Brian are no different than any other family. In fact, they have the privilege of spending more time with their daughter than many parents who work 40 plus hours a week. It was amazing to listen to this couple share their life story with us and show us just how normal and genuinely happy a circus family can be.

Final inspiring event of the week -- Forgotten Harvest Comedy Night. The mission of Forgotten Harvest is to relieve hunger in the Detroit metropolitan community by rescuing prepared and perishable food and donating it to emergency food providers. Check out this link for some staggering statistics about hunger in our area. Panera Bread donated more than $56,000 to Forgotten Harvest this past year (as well as a ton of leftover goods) and was also a presenting sponsor of Comedy Night, so I got to sit front and center at the event. There was a silent auction during the event, and if my memory is correct, I believe the auctioneer stated that 95 cents of every dollar donated during the auction would help provide meals to hungry people in our community. I couldn't believe how many people did not hesitate to bid and overbid on items! There was also a portion where the auctioneer invited people to join him on stage and simply donate different levels of money. After 10 minutes, the stage was full. All of those big-hearted people who donated their dollars will have the satisfaction of knowing that every dollar donated that night will provide six meals to our hungry neighbors. Now while my bank account and salary didn't quite allow me to contribute the type of money being donated last night, the graciousness of the audience inspired me.

I've said this before and I'll say it again -- I will continue to play my small part of helping those in need (volunteering, helping students/friends with resumes and finding jobs, ringing bells and donating to The Salvation Army's red kettles). And one day when I'm financially stable enough and student loans aren't hanging over my head, I will contribute even more. Things are rough in our community right now, for many reasons. It's a great thing to be able to say you've helped someone in need -- whether through monetary donations or by volunteering your time. Because as Ms. Bass so eloquently stated, life really isn't all about you -- it's about what you can do for someone else.

1 comment:

Rachel .:. A Step Ahead said...

You begin with a very inspiring quote. I'll have to keep it in mind!

And how great is your job? I mean, you get to go to the circus! :)