It was another whirlwind weekend at the Garlett household. Cade and Ella have taken up two new sports, basketball and fencing. They also had belt testing to advance to the next level of wushu. So our normally packed Friday night through Saturday night was pole to pole action. Sometimes it seems we may have too much going on with the kids. But Yan and I want to encourage our kids’ athleticism and self-confidence. It is one of those parenting lines we try to walk and are never quite sure which side we’re on.
We’ve also been trying to buy another investment property for a while. I feel like the market is changing. Inventory is low. Good deals are harder and harder to find. We’ve been putting offers out there but haven’t been able to get one accepted for quite a while. Then suddenly, out of the blue, this weekend we had three offers accepted all at once. So, a good chunk of our Sunday was spent physically inspecting each property and running and then re-running the numbers so we could whittle it down to one purchase – a lot of work but certainly a good position to be in!
Yet the highlight of the busy weekend (did I mention this weekend was busy?) was our time Sunday afternoon with Food on Foot, an organization whose motto is “Rebuilding lives one at a time.” This non-profit in Los Angeles is dedicated to helping the poor and homeless by providing meals, clothing, work training and job placement. We donated money to the program, then volunteered to help distribute food to people in need.
Yan was the driving force behind our family’s participation. And I must admit, left to my own devices, I’m sure I would have found something else to do with my Sunday afternoon, even if that something else was nothing else. But I’m so glad Yan made this happen. First of all, I love that she does things like this and pushes, pulls, and otherwise leads our family towards out-of-the-routine experiences. Secondly, I think it’s important that our children see up close and personal that not everyone shares the same comforts and privileges they possess, and I want them to observe, feel, and practice service to others. And thirdly, I was truly inspired by so many of the people I met there – from the other volunteers to the folks in the program who had hit rock bottom, lost literally everything, and yet hadn’t given up, wore big smiles on their faces, and were working incredibly hard to rebuild their lives.
I didn’t get a sense of entitlement from them. I didn’t get a sense of anger or resentment or victimhood. I did see them taking responsibility for themselves and their future. I saw genuine gratitude, appreciation, kindness, and compassion in them. I saw some of the best of humanity in these people who were living in barely human conditions. I saw hope.
I came away with a new perspective. I discovered an organization whose mission I support and whose methods I respect. I met people lifting themselves up by their bootstraps with joy in their hearts. I left humbled. I, who have everything, spend so much of my time thinking about just me and mine. Yet those I met, who have nothing, spend time every day focusing on how they can be of service to others. It’s part of the program and those successful in the program are so, in part, because they embrace and internalize that spirit of giving. I have a lot to learn from them, and I hope my children heard that simple but powerful message, too. It’s easy to make a difference in someone else’s life. It doesn’t just happen, however. We have to seek, recognize, and then act on the opportunity for kindness.
I am grateful for that reminder.