Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Laura Zera's Guest Post: If Sharing is Caring, then Giving is Living

I think I've mentioned how I'm sometimes thankful that certain amazing, generous, incredible people have just up and appeared in my life and thanks to twitter I've somehow been surrounded by a whole lot more of them. Laura Zera is one of those amazing people. She's incredibly funny and personable on twitter, her website has now become a daily addiction for me and I also just recently bought Write for the Fight. She is also incredibly dedicated and passionate about this world we live in. Her guest post today is an insightful plea for why we should keep giving, not to just George Mark House, but to our favorite charities and organizations and explains the philanthropic spirit better than I ever could. Thanks again Laura.

(Also, remember, all you have to do to get my blog for a day is be the first to tweet or blog about George Mark House for the week and send me a link! Next week is wide open!)

Laura Zera's Biography

Laura Zera has lived and worked in Cameroon, Canada, Israel, South Africa, and the United States. Her first book, Tro-tros and Potholes chronicles her solo adventures through five countries of West Africa. She's currently working on a memoir about being raised by a schizophrenic mother and is a contributor to Booktrope's 2012 anthology Write for the Fight: A Collection of Seasonal Essays, a fundraiser for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Laura has volunteered for more than 10 organizations in her lifetime, and has donated dollars to many more, so she expects to still be stuffing Ben & Jerry's down her piehold when she's 110.

If Sharing is Caring, then Giving is Living

Don’t let the title of this post fool you; I am going to try to make it through the whole piece without talking like Yoda. Try. Ever since I finished with my Wayne’s World phrase phase, I’ve been floundering…

First off, thank you to Tylia for letting me run amok on her site today. She’s been using her blog as a platform for good and coming up with creative ways to get the word out about George Mark Children’s House in northern California, a non-profit that specializes in pediatric palliative care. 

Originally, I was going to write a mental health piece, as that’s one of the core themes of my current work in progress, Crazy for You, and something I blog about quite often on my own site. But the more I read through Tylia’s blog posts, the more that giving stood out as a unifying theme.

Sometimes, believe it or not, giving can be a bad thing. You’ll not be thought of with any particular fondness if you’re remembered as the giver of hickeys, noogies, wedgies, or STDs. For the most part, though, giving is an act that makes all involved parties feel really, really swell. In fact, Stephen Post’s book Why Good Things Happen to Good People cites a 50-year study showing that people who are giving during their high school years have better physical and mental health throughout their lives. Other studies show that giving when you’re older leads to a longer life.

Giving doesn’t just make you feel good in the moment; it actually has long-term health benefits!
Non-profit organizations are a great way to give, through time or money, because they are vital to our society. They fill gaps in services that have been left by corporations and government, plus, they fill those gaps with a whole lot of heart. In other words, we’d be both sad and royally screwed without them. Agreed, all the TV commercials, direct mail campaigns and phone solicitations for donations can be annoying and overwhelming, but for the most part, non-profits are the real deal, so don’t let your favorite cause or charity get left in the cold because of ‘ask saturation.’

You don’t have to be wealthy to give, or always have to give big. Trust me, even a small amount creates a lot of happiness. I remember when I worked in a non-profit back about seven years ago, and how excited all of the staff got (there were six of us) whenever a donation came in the mail. One of our favorites was from an elderly gentleman without a lot of means who used to send us ten dollars a month. It would totally make our day.

One of the great ‘giving vehicles’ that is often overlooked or forgotten is the bequest—giving or leaving personal property through your will. Wow, talk about leaving a meaningful legacy. And here’s one that will have triple happiness impact: make a surprise donation in honor of a friend to an organization that’s meaningful to them.

If the idea of a financial contribution makes you itchy, then consider donating your time. It still holds all the ‘feel good’ aspects of giving money, AND you have the added benefit of gaining new friends and, quite possibly, new job skills. Finally, if time is also tight, then how about your blood? Don’t let the tax collector and your ex-spouse be the only ones who draw down on it. Note: if you have ever lived in Cameroon, then you will be on a permanent donor ban list, as I’ve found out. If not, then you’re golden!
You know, it’s crazy, but I feel better just from *writing* this blog post. I think giving really does a body good. And now I’m going to go give my stomach some ice cream.


Laura Zera said...

Thanks again for hosting me, Tylia. I'm completely touched and honored by your introduction, and also grateful that the Twitterverse provided the opportunity for our paths to cross. You're a gem, love!

The Bloody Munchkin said...

Thanks so much for doing this. I appreciate it. You're a gem also!