by Lara Gladych –
Seaside Magazine wants to live up to our slogan of being “the voice of the Saanich Peninsula,”so, in every issue, we’ll be asking people to answer a question. We’re looking for responses from all ages and across the diverse neighbourhoods that form our community.
The notion of “giving back” runs wide and deep on the Saanich Peninsula, as I see things. Here we are quick to support those who need help, to endorse a worthy cause and to rally for good where there is a perceived need.
When asked the question “What does giving back mean to you?”the locals I interviewed were pensive, and offered carefully-contemplated answers.
When I think of giving back, I immediately consider examples such as regularly supporting and touting the local businesses who have repeatedly supported my kids in their dance and baseball endeavours over the years. I believe that word-of-mouth is the most effective way I can help the businesses and people I love, and is a gesture that costs me nothing but can make an enormous difference for others.
I then think of the outpouring of donations big and small, and the difference these made to my daughter when she was fundraising to travel to Germany to dance with Team Canada a couple of years ago. Friends were so eager to show their support with donations, and I remember this every time I see a friend’s child fundraising for opportunities they have worked very hard for.
I give back to our school by volunteering whenever I’m able, and I show my appreciation for our teachers with small gestures like a surprise latté once in a while. I love the look on someone’s face when they realize you’ve done something nice for them for no particular reason except that you are generally grateful for all that they do.
“Paying it forward”is a response I heard over and over again from people in the community, and is a sentiment I share about how we all can give back. It is an intentional effort to consciously “pay forward” generosity, a kind act, a show of affection and support, or perhaps even the wisdom of a past experience from which others can learn something. In my experience, it is the most rewarding way to acknowledge that which others have done for you in a time of need.
“Gratitude is an action word,” says Hélène, 46. “It’s the simple things. Just giving back … it could be picking up someone’s coffee, or helping someone move,” adds Johanna, 32, who is with Hélène. The two agree that doing something for someone without them knowing is a wonderful way to give back. “It’s selflessness.”
Linda, 71, says: “It’s about sharing. Someone shared with you and therefore you share.”
Carol, 75, gives her thoughts after some quick contemplation. “At my age it’s volunteering for whatever you can. Donating. I’ve just been volunteering at the Visitor’s Centre.” Well, that’s putting your words into action, Carol.
After a little tumble off her bike, followed by an ice cream cone from Mom and Dad, little Avery, three, tells me that she likes to share, give flowers to her mummy, and make her sister, Maya, two, laugh. Her parents are both nurses, and feel that they give back on a daily basis through their profession. “We give a lot of our time and energy and support. We’re taking care of people when they’re in their most vulnerable states. It’s a gift to have people open up to you when they’re at their most vulnerable,” says Krista, 35.
Though she’s in a bit of a rush, Tracy, 49, hurriedly shares that for her giving back means “doing unto others as you would do for yourself. Treat everyone as family.”
“Not thinking about giving something to someone is what it means to me. Pay it forward. It’s karma, the great wheel.” That’s Leanna’s wisdom. She’s 66. Her friend, Dana, who is 65, adds that “giving back is rewarding; it makes you feel good. People have been good to me.”
So many thoughtful answers. Bob mulls it over for a moment and finally says: “First of all, it’s giving your children the love they give you, on a unconditional basis.” Bob is 71.
“Giving back means to give someone something to make them happy or to say thank you.” This is from Madalon, 57. Similarly, Colleen, 52, feels that giving back is doing a good deed for someone else.
The final answer I hear comes from Liana, 25. “Giving back to me means helping out people in our community that need it and need our support.” A shared sentiment, I’m sure, Liana.
In his book, A Hand to Guide Me, Denzel Washington says: “At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” I hope we can all find something in these words.