There is a saying that has been around for years. It’s been embroidered on pillows, quoted in books, used in movies – so long that I am not sure who said it first but it still resonates every time I hear it. It goes “Every day might not be good. But there is good in every day.”
Like many sayings, they are intended to inspire and uplift us but over time we become dulled to its meaning. This one is worth revisiting.
Even on our worst days, we need to remember that we all have bad days and it’s OK. The challenge is to try to not let the bad days outnumber the good days and that can be a huge challenge for some of us. When that happens, we should always challenge ourselves to find at least one good thing about each and every day. It will lift us and make us grateful for the day regardless of how bad it seems to be. You might be surprised. If you find one, you can find others and before you know it – the day is not so bad after all.
Everyday I consider my first first good thing, my biggest blessing of the day is when I woke up. I get a chance to start all over again with a new day. We all do! Perhaps there was a physical, mental or emotional problem that zapped all of our strength and will power the day before but today – we get a chance to face it again and maybe accomplish a little more and find the strength to keep moving forward.
Sometimes, I just go outside and sit in the sun surrounded by the orchids or I volunteer at Girls, Inc. and see the smiling faces of the girls and realize how good the day really is . We need to find that one nugget inside of ourselves or outside of ourselves that, no matter how bad the day seems, will make us smile and say to ourselves that today is a good day and I am the good in this day!
It’s almost two weeks after Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean and Florida leaving a path of devastation, despair and sadness. But if we take a moment to look back on the storm we can find examples of incredible kindness, sensitivity and hope where we rose to be our best selves even in the midst of the chaos.
When I went to church this past Sunday morning, along with many other Floridians, I was moved to tears during much of the service. The church was packed as everyone came to give thanks for making it safely through the storm – whether suffering material losses or not, everyone was thankful to have their family and friends safe. When I entered the church and gazed down the long hallway – I felt so much of a sense of pride and amazement at seeing the stacks of supplies that were there for anyone who needed it – food, paper goods, diapers, water and more – serving not only our church but the entire community and the needs of all.
Before the hurricane hit, as preparations were being made and immediately after when everyone was helping with the clean up that will be on-going for a long time, no one cared what anyone’s race, ethnicity or sexual orientation was – it did not matter! Everyone dropped everything to help in some way. Think about it. Should it really take something like a hurricane to make us reach out to one another with kindness, respect and love? I hope not but if it does, let’s keep in mind what could have happened, be grateful that it didn’t happen and act as if we can be the person that we were during the storm even if the storm never comes.
When you are trying to get the attention of approximately 180-200 girls between the ages of 5-14 on any given day at Girls, Inc., you will often hear the leaders proclaim “Girls? Girls? Girls?” to which the girls quickly respond “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Then all eyes and ears are focused on the information to come. I love it and I love this organization!
I had heard so much about Girls, Inc. about two years ago but could not find one in the Baltimore region. I was delighted to learn that there was one in Sarasota, Florida not too far from our new home. I could not wait to get settled and become an active volunteer. Given its motto “inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold” how could you not love it!
The girls come from all walks of life. There is a fee for attending the program but with the help of donors, many girls attend either on full scholarships or with minimal payments based on their family income. All are welcome and all are represented. At the Sarasota Girls, Inc., there is a lot of diversity in ethnicity and income levels. The older girls support and engage with the younger girls so much so that many of the girls who leave the program as participants return later to volunteer.
They very much need and welcome volunteers. There is and should be diversity in the volunteers as well so that the girls can be inspired and encouraged to see themselves and the possibilities for their lives. Volunteers range from high school students to grandmothers, mothers and big sisters as well as professionals like business owners, lawyers, engineers, and artists like dancers, actors, musicians singers. The program focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) but also covers creative arts and athletics. There is so much to do and learn and all of it while learning life skills, building confidence, having fun and making friends.
Do you have a Girls, Inc. near you? If so, check it out and maybe it will draw you in as it has with me. I love my first new friends in Sarasota – most of them under the age of 12.
Senior Legal Services working for seniors in the community.
It is important to me in retirement to continue to give back in meaningful ways by volunteering where I can now that I am retired. Senior Legal Services (“SLS”) is a joint program of the Bar Association of Baltimore City and the Baltimore Bar Foundation, Inc. It is a very small organization that provides a huge service to seniors living in Baltimore City. There are a lot of organizations providing similar services to seniors but SLS is unique in that they have a presence in the community. Seniors do not have to come to SLS. SLS goes to the seniors. They provide services in the field by going out to senior centers and senior apartment buildings, as well as conducting outreach programs at community events and church groups upon request. The organization serves as a last resort many times for seniors who may otherwise not be able to avail themselves of legal services because of the costs associated.
Eligibility to participate.
To be eligible for the program the seniors need only be a resident of Baltimore City, age 60 or older and the highest priority goes to low-income seniors. The range of matters include estate planning and administration matters (e.g., wills, advance medical directives, probate, guardianship, etc.), housing matters (e.g., landlord/tenant, foreclosure prevention, loan modification, home improvement and other types of contractual matters that adversely affect seniors).
Like many non-profits – doing so much with so very little.
I am amazed at the amount of work that is done by so few people with so few resources. They have only three full-time attorneys and rely on volunteer attorneys to fill the void when needed. They are able to take advantage of programs such as Volunteer Maryland (similar to Americorp) and the periodic use of interns to get additional help. With that staffing model, they were able to provide legal services to over 1,000 seniors in 2015. The funding is provided by the State, City and corporate partners as well as several charitable foundations.
How I got involved.
My former employer, Exelon, partnered with SLS in conducting estate clinics at various senior centers in Baltimore City. That is how I first got involved. When I approached Natalie after I retired to see how I could continue working with them, she suggested that I could accompany one of their attorneys to the Oliver Center. They generously provide space in the center so that SLS is able to meet with seniors by appointment during one of two sessions each month.
The Oliver Center – one of Baltimore’s finest senior centers.
The Oliver Center is a wonderful senior center full of vital and wonderful seniors. It is hard to keep my feet from moving sometimes when I am there. In addition to rocking line dancing classes where the dancers are often spilling into the hallway, you can find seniors attending healthy eating sessions with cooking demonstrations, working in a computer lab, taking sewing classes, and just gathering in spaces where seniors can share a few hours talking and sharing a meal with others in their community. The Oliver Center also provides information to seniors on the many services that are available through the City of Baltimore and the State so that they can be sure that their housing and health issues are addressed.
There is joy in seeing the seniors take advantage of the activities the Oliver Center and other similar centers offer around the city. Many seniors live alone and would otherwise not have the physical activity or the interpersonal activity on a regular basis. Sometimes they come to see us frustrated and even scared at their circumstances – perhaps facing foreclosure because they can no longer afford their homes, pressures from contracts that they signed without fully understanding the implications, fearful of making a will or an advance medical directive because end of life decisions can be difficult for some to face. Sometimes, they just need to talk through family matters which they do not realize may not have a legal implication but the need to talk to someone outside of their immediate family is helpful. Sometimes they have lost their spouses or children and need assistance with next steps in how to take care of their personal matters. Whatever the need, we try to help where we can and always listen compassionately.
We laugh a lot and see a lot of photos of grandchildren. It is a pleasure and honor to share in their lives and to help in any way we can. Just as we look at those younger than us and see things that we could offer them based on our own life experiences, we can also look to the seniors and embrace the lessons that they have learned. It is a journey that we all take and when we look into their eyes, we see where we want the journey to lead us.