I used to pride myself on being fiercely independent and not asking for help. I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone and assumed that my need would cause others grief. I had an experience as a teenager that taught me a valuable lesson: people like to help other people.
While visiting my aunt in Seattle one summer, we drove to a restaurant on a typical drizzly Northwest day and she absentmindedly left the car lights on. When we were done, the engine wouldn’t start. I was immediately filled with dread and angst. Rather than being stressed by the situation, my aunt declared in an upbeat voice, “It’s time to make someone’s day!”
She saw the look of surprise on my face and asked, “Haven’t you ever noticed that when someone comes to your rescue that it absolutely makes their day?” We popped the hood, and I kid you not, within five seconds a gentleman came by and asked if we needed assistance. My aunt explained the situation and he ran back to get his car and jumper cables. In mere minutes our car was running. The man was absolutely beaming. As he walked away with his head held high and chest fully inflated, my auntie turned to me and said, “See? He’s walking on air.” She was right. I learned a valuable lesson that day. It’s personally rewarding to help others.
As the development director for a local nonprofit mental health agency that serves more than 400 children a week, I am continually giving people the opportunity to help others. I seek support from both individuals and businesses – support doesn’t necessarily come in the form of a check.
The families that we serve have serious challenges. Many things we take for granted are luxuries or simply out of reach for them. 93 percent of the families that we serve live in poverty. In addition, they are usually dealing with a serious mental health issue. Many of our families are also on food stamps. More often than not, by the end of the month their food stamp allowance is spent, they’ve visited the food bank and their cupboards are empty. We often have children showing up for appointments with their tummy’s growling. Important items like shampoo, toothpaste, detergent and toilet paper are a challenge to obtain as they cannot be purchased with food stamps and are often the most expensive items in the shopping cart.
One of the things that touches me about Children’s Center is that we don’t just provide therapy services. We work holistically with the families to improve their life situation. We have a snack cupboard filled with protein bars, peanut butter crackers and fruit leather to give to children who show up hungry. We try to keep bags of food on hand to give to families that are struggling at the end of the month. During the holidays, we do a big toy drive with the goal of sending a gift home for each child in the family. Many of our families don’t have extra dollars to spend on presents. With my own eyes, I’ve seen parents burst into tears of gratitude and relief at receiving these “simple” items. It has absolutely made my day.
Area businesses and organizations can make a difference for our families in need by hosting drives (food, snacks, stuffed animals, personal items and toys) or volunteering at our events and helping make “heavy helpers” (weighted stuffed animals that serve as therapy tools for children with sensory issues).
I invite you and your business or organization to make a difference for others and see if it doesn’t make your day as well.
Kim Hash is the Children’s Center director of development. She can be reached at 360.699.2244 or