Transitioning Through Life

By Tina Michelle Cameron

If you follow my blog, you know that I am an advocate for paying it forward and for doing volunteer work. And, just like many people who want to volunteer with their families at Thanksgiving and Christmas time, such as serving meals to the homeless or at a shelter—I have always wanted to do that on those mornings. Unfortunately, with my work schedule and other demands in life, it never worked out or the shelters had no openings for volunteers. I know that is not a good excuse, as there are 363 other days that these shelters need help.

transitions-facilityI am a nurse and have always wanted to help people and to care for them, it is just my nature. Well, I signed up a few weeks ago to volunteer at a shelter in Columbia called Transitions. It is in downtown Columbia at the site of a hotel that was torn down. It is a beautiful brick building that blends in with the rest of the buildings downtown. If you did not know what it is, you probably would not ever guess that it is a place for homeless people as well as others who are of various ages and stages in their life. Many have lost their jobs resulting in losing their homes, and some are people that live on the streets every day. Others have some income and a job, but need a place to stay for a few months to truly get back on their feet and in permanent housing.

I completed my orientation and walk-thru with the director last Wednesday, December 19th and served my first breakfast the next morning. We had 6 volunteers that morning and a nutritious breakfast to 100 people in 15 minutes. By the time I drove home an hour later, I knew this was what I wanted to do as a small way of helping people who are down on their luck.

Every single person that I served that morning, thanked every single one of us and told us how appreciative they were to have us get up on a cold, rainy morning and drive there to serve them breakfast. They wished us Merry Christmas, and all told us God bless you. Some were young, some were old, but they all were so thankful to have a hot meal and a place for a few hours or overnight to get out of the cold and wet weather.

According to their website and the amazing Community Outreach/ Event Coordinator, Cathy, Transitions was founded in 2011 and have been able to help 2,179 people find jobs and permanent housing. They have 240 beds- they have a day center that serves meals, they have a 30-day unit for men and women to stay short-term and then they have a much larger building to house people for several months to help them get back on their feet. They have numerous classes held daily to help with job skills, AA meetings and empowerment classes for women. They also have a raised vegetable garden that was created by a Boy Scout for his Eagle Scout project. Transitions is a non-profit organization and is the largest homeless center in Columbia, serving numerous counties in the state.

transitions-logoPlease consider volunteering at Transitions. It is easy to sign up as a volunteer on their website. I am already excited to return. I am blessed to have a wonderful job, a beautiful family and home, but, many of us could be in the same boat and be 1-2 paychecks away from losing everything. Life is what you make it, mine is not perfect by any means, but I want to know I made a difference.

#payitforward

#spreadkindness

https://transitionssc.org/

Paying It Forward in a Small Way

By Tina Cameron

Today was a good day. It has been 4 months and 1 day since I had to put my precious 9-year old Yorkie—Haley Michelle to sleep. I wrote about her in my first blog. She lived longer than she was supposed to according to her vet –she had been in liver failure since the age of 2. However, she ended up being diagnosed with a rare Pancreatic cancer 12 days before I made the painful decision to let her go as she was rapidly declining.

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Haley Michelle

Haley’s birthday was on September 20th and I have been paying it forward since then in little ways to honor her. I donated to a pet charity on her birthday and have been looking to pay the adoption fee for someone. Well, today was the day! I happened to be at the Humane Society in Columbia picking up a voucher for my grand-dog Hanks neutering appointment this Thursday. While waiting I noticed a woman petting and loving on a Pit-bull mix breed dog named Clayton. He is approximately 2 years old. I overheard the woman give her name—Savannah to the lady at the counter and told her she would be back tomorrow afternoon to pick Clayton up. When she went to return the dog to his room, I asked if I could pay the adoption fee for this young lady. I excitedly sat back down and waited for her to leave. I explained about my sweet Haley passing and that I wanted to pay it forward. The two wonderful ladies who helped me were so excited to be in on this secret. They also explained to me that Clayton had been there longer than the other dogs who were already adopted out.

I immediately felt a sense of happiness in my heart for doing this for this dog. I am terrified of Pit Bulls and I know that a lot are put down because of either waiting for their fur-ever home and never getting it or because of their temperament. Last week, I hugged and petted a beautiful Pit at Pet Smart. This was a first for me.

While I was waiting to get my voucher, I could tell that the woman was already falling for this dog and the dog seemed to be so excited for someone to be paying attention to him. After I paid the $35 adoption fee and was waiting on my receipt, I wrote Savannah a sweet little note that will be given to her tomorrow when she returns to pick Clayton up. I wish I could see her face when she picks up her sweet dog. Happy Gotcha Day Clayton!! Wishing you and your fur-ever family nothing but happiness. I know my sweet Haley is smiling down on me today.

If you would like to help The Humane Society, they take newspapers, old towels and sheets. Their address is 121 Humane Lane Columbia, SC 29209. Their phone number is 803-783-1267. Also, if you are a Richland County resident and are having your cat/dog spayed or neutered, you can get a voucher to use to help with the cost of the surgery at Pawmetto Lifeline Spay/Neuter Clinic located on 1275 Bower Parkway Columbia, SC 29212. Their phone number is 803-465-9150. You are allowed 2 vouchers a year. This is a great thing that these two organizations do.

The Great Kindness Challenge

By: Shannon Shull

This past week, the school that I have the pleasure of teaching at decided to partake in the Great Kindness Challenge. It was a big deal at the school. Our students were reminded and encouraged to be kind and engage in acts of kindness.

I personally discovered that it was an interesting experiment in humanity. I overheard some students bragging about holding a door open for someone, picking something up for someone, and other very simple acts of kindness. Many students were patting themselves on the back for these simple acts and even acting a bit entitled and special for doing these acts.

I had a problem with this. I have to admit, I even got my feathers ruffled a bit because the fact of the matter is, we should do simple acts of kindness on a daily basis. It should not be a challenge to be kind to others!

I took this opportunity to bring the important issue out in the open with my students. I described to them simple scenarios in which, if you are a good human being, you would be kind regardless of any existing challenge encouraging good behavior. It should be a given. I made it clear that I would hope that any of them would come to someone’s rescue if they needed help – whether that be holding a door open, helping clean up a mess, or coming to someone’s aid that is hurt.

I challenged my students to think about what a true kindness challenge would be. We discussed the importance of simply being a good person and how being kind is, and should be, an everyday thing. So as we experienced the “Great Kindness Challenge,” I challenged my students to go above and beyond the everyday kindness that they should already display. I encouraged them to think about how they could take that extra step to be kind and make a real, positive difference in the lives of others.

My hope is that I opened the eyes of my students. Whether I was able to or not, I’m honestly not sure. But I hope and pray that my students do not think of being kind only when challenged, but as a daily way of life, simply because that’s what it means to be a good person.

I came across this lovely video of a young man who was bullied and had to change schools, and made a conscious decision to be noticed and accepted instead of fading into the background unnoticed. He devoted time to being kind to others by holding doors open at the new school – not one day, but many days, weeks even. He became known as the doorman, that super nice guy who always held the door open for others. He became everyone’s friend. He became an enormous inspiration and touched the lives of others around him in such a beautiful way. His simple act of kindness, in hopes to be noticed and accepted, blossomed into a kindness epidemic that spread acceptance and light. I showed this video to every single one of my classes, using it as a brilliant example of meeting a true kindness challenge – a challenge of going above and beyond a base level of kindness that is expected of any good human being.

I hope you’ll take the time to watch this beautiful story and let it inspire you to accept the kindness challenge by going above and beyond, broadening your daily doses of kindness to bring light into the lives of those around you. 🙂

The Magic of Christmas Delivered Via a Snow Man

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

It was a cold, rainy Christmas Eve, and I was more than a little down. It was our fourth Christmas season without Dad, but it seemed to be the most difficult one yet. The season seemed to sneak up on me, and I was totally unprepared. The weather was horrible. And Snowman feederquite frankly, I just wasn’t feeling the spirit of Christmas. All of that changed as I pulled into the driveway that afternoon.

Something on the front porch caught my eye. It was a large snowman bird feeder, complete with a large red bow. I figured someone had left a gift for us, and I walked in through the front door to check it out.

On the snowman, there was a letter to “The Baldauf Sisters” that read: “Yesterday I lived with another. Before that, I lived with yet another. Starting today, my home is with you. But only for the next 364 days. Why you? It’s because the place I lived before thinks the world of you. Next Christmas Eve, it’ll be your turn to share the spirit of Christmas with someone whose light shines as brightly as yours.”

I broke down in happy tears, touched that someone had thought of us in such a delightful way. Our anonymous Santa blessed us with magic of Christmas that we were so lacking, and to whoever they are, I thank them profusely. I can’t wait until next Christmas Eve to return the favor.

Paying it Forward

By: Katie Austin

Happy New Year to my Every Woman Blog family!  I hope 2013 is off to a great start for each of you!  Like most, my husband and I spent the better part of January 1st preparing for re-entry back into the real world   Yep, it was time to head back to work, and the plan was to spend a relaxing first day of the year at home watching the college bowl games.  Go Gamecocks! 🙂

Pay it ForwardOur first decision for 2013 was that we were not going to cook on the first day of the year.  We had been cooking a ton over the holidays, so after a unanimous vote (there were only two of us… LOL!), the decision was made and off we drove to Lizards Thicket with images of breakfast dancing in our heads.  If you haven’t had breakfast at Lizards Thicket, they do a great job for a good price, whether you choose to eat in or carry out.  Just thought to mention that and no, this is not a paid advertisement 🙂

Like you would expect, we pulled up to the drive-thru, placed our order (veggie omelette, potatoes, toast, and juice each – yum!) and then moved forward to the checkout window to pay for our scrumptious meal.  What happened next was completely unexpected and why I wanted to share this story with you!  (This is where I build suspense and you cry out “What happens next?!”)

When we pulled up to pay for our meal, a young woman at the register said to us “Your meal was just paid for in full by the man driving away.” We went into shock and sat there staring, with our mouths wide open, at the gray car pulling away to see if it was someone we knew. I asked her “Did he really just pay for our meal?”  She replied with a smile, “Yes. His meal was only $7 and he paid for yours in full.”   Our meal was double the price of his, and he paid for ours without hesitation. She told us that this had been happening all morning with each car pulling up to pay for the meal ordered behind them.  She then went on to tell us that her mom had someone pay her $63 grocery bill and told her “Happy Holidays” before walking out of the store with their own groceries.

I literally did not know what to say and for those that know me, that takes a lot!  Haha! As we waited for our food, we learned that this young woman was a single mother and she smiled as she told us that she felt blessed to be a part of something special.  People were paying it forward and she was a part of it!  We were so moved by what had just happened that we wanted to do the same so we offered to pay for the meal ordered behind us. We paid for their meal, giving about the same as a tip, and then drove off smiling knowing that the car behind us was going to learn that we had just paid for their meal! I wonder how many times the story was told that day to each car pulling up who offered to pay for the meal ordered behind them 🙂

What a great way to start 2013 and it warmed our hearts to know that we were making a difference along with everyone else who was stepping up to pay it forward.  As we ate our breakfast, we realized that because we paid less than our original meal cost, giving more for a tip to make up the difference, that we were helping the young woman we just met at the drive-thru window. It’s amazing to think that one random act of kindness can spark many to do the same and the lives changed that day including ours!

Pay it Forward DayTo pay if forward doesn’t mean that it has to be something you pay for.  I found a website that sets an international Pay It Forward date each year and offers ideas for paying it forward.  What a great idea!  The date has been set for Thursday, April 25, 2013 so mark your calendars and be prepared to make a difference.  You never know if your act of kindness will be the biggest change in someone else’s life 🙂

Have you done something to pay it forward?  Are you planning to participate in Pay It Forward Day?  Share your ideas with us and how we can each pay it forward for a better tomorrow.

Looking forward to another year with my Every Woman Blog family!