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A recognized need requires a response

Chances are that each week, each of us recognizes a need that somebody should to do something about. Whether it’s the homeless person sitting on the curb, active-duty family members trying to deal with their military family member’s frequent deployments, or teens trying to figure out what their future could look like,  there seems to be no shortage of opportunities where we can help one another and serve a greater good.

The thing of it is that although we may become aware of a need, all too often we turn away or talk ourselves out of really recognizing the importance of the need.

We see, but we don’t always respond.  Why don’t we respond?  Because, we

  • Deny our ability to make a difference,
  • Change the focus to something else so that we become distracted from the need,
  • Allow ourselves to get overwhelmed by what it may take to make a difference,
  • Deny our emotional response to the need,
  • Believe that someone else will do something.

Now what if we take the previous list and turn it around with a potential response.  For example, what if we

  • Recognized that we can make a difference–even if it starts out small, or resulted in an act of kindness
  • Allowed ourselves to focus on the need and discover how we’re uniquely suited to respond,
  • Responded to the need–one step at a time–baby steps if we had to,
  • Allowed ourselves to respond emotionally to the need to develop empathy,
  • Looked in the mirror for the person that can help.

This brings to mind a situation a few years ago where a devastating earthquake hit Turkey.  We were living in the UK at the time and when we saw the news footage, it struck a chord with my husband, Jim and I.  It wasn’t long after the initial news reports that we heard families in the area couldn’t get access to some basic baby supplies.  People had difficulty taking care of their babies and small children–they needed things like diapers, cotton swabs, baby wipes, powdered formula, baby bottles, and more.  A day or two later,  Jim, myself and our childcare provider, Elisia, were talking about how we wished we could do something…and then something happened.  We started talking like we really could do something.  Then we began asking questions like,

  • What can we do to make a difference?
  • What items were most needed?
  • How could we get the word out?
  • How could we encourage others to donate items?
  • Where would be a good place to collect donations?
  • How could we get the collected items to the earthquake zone?

Once we developed a list of questions, we started talking to people about what we wanted to do and asked who we needed to talk to get our questions answered.  With each step we took, we got some answers, gained some support, and then developed more questions.  We didn’t know all of the answers, but we just kept taking steps.  Before long, we got permission to put collection bins in the entries and exits at some local stores and called our effort “Operation Baby Shower.” We posted and handed out flyers throughout the community.  So many people were happy to donate the much needed items, and over the course of about a month, we sent almost 1000 pounds of baby items and supplies to the areas effected.  It was a relatively short-term project but it made a difference to those in Turkey, and made a difference in us.

This story illustrates a need that we saw and then responded to.  It took just three of us to start the wheels in motion to make a difference on a small scale.

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of stories out there where people have taken three simple steps that have positively impacted countless others:

  • Recognize a need
  • Allow yourself to react to the need.
  • Take steps to respond.

What does this look like for you…in your context?