How We Reach A Place Of Giving

How do we become givers? While it would be easy to assume that being able to spread compassion and walk through the world with an understanding and giving spirit is something that you either have or you don’t have, the reality is far more nuanced.

For some people, giving back seems to come naturally — there’s a sense that they’re innately selfless, without ever veering into martyrdom. For others, it’s a more circuitous path towards toward becoming a more enlightened being.

As these three stories show, everyone’s journey is different. You might be driven by your faith or by the example set by your family. You might be driven by a difficult experience that helped give you perspective — or you might find that empathy is an obvious driving force, even from your youth.

What all of these stories show us is that it doesn’t matter how you come to a broadened and softened world view. We might not all start charities at the age of nine, but we can all learn through the examples of those who are out there, every day, determined to make the world a better place for those who have less and those who need more.

There is no right or wrong journey, there is only inspiration. Let these three paths show that inspiration can come in any and every form, if you’re open to it.

Sister Mary Scullion And A Clear Call To Giving

Inspiration can sometimes come in the strangest of places. Named one of Time’s Most 100 Influential People of the Year,  Sister Mary Scullion draws her inspiration from Pope Francis, Mother Theresa, and… Jon Bon Jovi, of all people. A life deeply rooted in compassion and empathy, she traces back her journey to her father’s illness, which she attributes to connecting her with higher levels of grace and understanding.

From volunteering at Sisters of Mercy, a camp for children, in her youth, Sister Mary has known her mind from a young age — she even announced plans to become a nun when she was in her junior year of high school. With that assuredness and determination, Sister Mary has made a life of helping those who live in poverty and homelessness.

In college, she volunteered with underprivileged women and soon transitioned into outreach work on the streets. To fully understand the lives of the people she was trying to help, she lived as homeless for a week — and during that time, she says she has never felt closer to God.

With a truer understanding of how it is to feel hungry, unsafe, and desperate, Sister Mary was even more determined to find a way to help those in need. Through Project H.O.M.E. (Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, Education), she’s done that to extraordinary success.

More than 95 percent of people who come through Project H.O.M.E. never return to the streets — a truly unbelievable rate of success. And it’s all down to the understanding, grit, and determination of Sister Mary.

You can learn more about Project H.O.M.E. and how to donate on their website. 

Project Teddy Bear And An Early Drive To Give Back

While Sister Mary Scullion has lived a life of giving back, Campbell Remess of Tasmania, Australia is just beginning. At 13 years old, Remess is making extraordinary changes to the lives of sick children through Project Teddy Bear. 

At nine years old, Remess was desperate to help children in hospital — and asked his mother if he could buy presents for children who were undergoing treatment. But he realized that his family couldn’t afford to buy as many toys as he wanted to give. So instead, he decided to make them. He painstakingly taught himself how to make teddy bears, giving them out to children who had finished chemotherapy and needed cheering up. 

Now, a few years on, Project Teddy Bear has sent presents to Pakistan, China, Paris, and every corner of the world. What makes a nine-year-old decide to do something so profound? There’s an innate empathy and understanding driving an urge to give back.

Sometimes, children see things more clearly and their motivations are more straightforward — they can identify the right thing and want to do it. But even with that in mind, it takes an incredible kind of child to actually act on it — especially in the dedicated and selfless way that Remess has. 

You can learn more about how the project and support Remess on the Project 365 website.

Simran Sidhu And The Power Of Giving Through Example

Sister Mary Scullion learned from watching her father suffer and putting herself in the shoes of others. Campbell Remess has been driven to give back from before he reached puberty. For Simran Sidhu, her urge to help seems to be rooted in growing up in a family who taught her the power of an open mind — and an open door.

Born in Bombay in 1971, from the time Sidhu was a child she remembers her family opening up their small flat to anyone who needed a hand. Escaping abuse, facing poverty — people in dire circumstances would live on her couch for six or seven months at a time.

And her parents, early feminists, taught her to dream bigger than the status quo. It was assumed that she would go to college and she was encouraged to follow her own path.

Now, Sidhu has helped thousands of at-risk youth by understanding the power of second chances. YouthBuild Philidelphia helps those who have dropped out of high school get a chance to finish what they started. Since Sidhu joined in 1995, YouthBuild has reached wild levels of success, combining a route to get a high school diploma with job skills and mentorship.

Many of the young adults who go through YouthBuild have been homeless, incarcerated, in foster care, or have children of their own. To them, Sidhu has not just been a leader and an example, she’s forged strong personal connections. She has taken the skills learned at YouthBuild to the Hive at Spring Point.

To find out more about YouthBuild and how to give back, you can learn more on their website.

There is no right path to becoming a strong, empathetic person — some people draw from their faith, others from the examples of their family, still more from personal experience. But if you’re willing to look, you’ll find that the reminders to live softly and kindly are everywhere — if your eyes are open to them.