16 October 2014

2+ week old kitten that we looked after overnight

 

RAOK round-up documents the random acts of kindness or volunteerism that we have been able to do for others over the last month. Our focus is to do something for someone each week. Listing them here celebrates this goal, and we hope may help to make you more mindful of what you have to give too. 

 

As the days lengthen, the flowers bloom and winter recedes, it is easier to think of ways to put a bit of joy on people's faces (because you are feeling more joyful yourself).

 

Here's what we've been up to:

  • Made a few meals for Vega's BFF (& mum) who lost her dad suddenly.  Vega spent a lot of time with her too.
  • Made soup for the dear man who lost his wife to cancer.
  • Knitted & crocheted beanies to raise money for Breast Cancer.
  • Drove a young man home.
  • Took care of hand-rearing 2 2+ week old kittens overnight.
  • Gave the 2 (volunteer) trainee baristas at the cafe a french press to start their 'work kit'.
  • Offered someone a handmade card to use, instead of them rushing around to find one to buy.
  • Vega and I continued to volunteer at the Welcome Wednesday cafe, and Gemma joined us too.  She serves drinks out to the tables and clears them as well.  She works really hard and is spent at the end of the 4-hour session.
  • Took on a couple of new barista trainees.
  • Donated cookbooks and men's work clothes to a level 2 hospitality course.
  • Bought an outfit for a lass who couldn't otherwise participate in a themed work day.
  • Spent a day chauffeuring 4 teens around our region's opportunity (charity) shops looking for clothes; gave them some money to spend and provided them lunch.
  • Took a young person to look for work, and picked them up again.
  • Fed & entertained several unexpected guests.
  • Knitted a beanie; and gave an artwork we had to 2 different people as thank you gifts.
  • Gave a young mum some clothing.
  • Passed on a new handbag that I'd never use to someone that will. 
  • Donated foam sponges to a local alternative training programme for cleaning the vans they pick up the students in.

 

Many of the actions this month have involved giving something that we already had or have created of our own hand.  The beanies knitted from our yarn stash; the clothing from our surplus.  The benefits have been two-fold.  We get to meet another person's need, and at the same time release items that we no longer require nor would store when we go on the road.  

It helps focusing on the recipient(s) when you are sorting yet another box / bag / pile; and as you make an in-road you also see what is being accomplished to move towards the goal of less stuff, and travel.  It's only just recently whilst trying to think of people who might directly benefit from our things that I have been more aware of people in the wider community with less than us, that could really be helped with our hand-me-ons.  Until now, I thought we were struggling.

I'd say it was addictive but that's not quite it - it's motivating, freeing and fulfilling. 

18 September 2014

Left: the existing poster style; right: my imitation

 

RAOK round-up documents the random acts of kindness or volunteerism that we have been able to do for others over the last month. Our focus is to do something for someone each week. Listing them here celebrates this goal, and we hope may help to make you more mindful of what you have to give too.

 

Two of the things that have been 'huge' for me this past month, is to give away household items instead of selling them second hand; and sorting through and giving away some of the mountains of clothes we have around our home.  Both took a leap of faith, as I really felt/feel that I ought to try and get something back for them - that if I didn't sell the items I was throwing away income that we really do need.  It was a thrill to know that Women's Refuge were determined to see that good homes were found for each and every piece of furniture or baby item; and that our donations were appreciated.  It made the process so much easier.  

Alongside this I have been sorting through and shredding decade-old receipts and paperwork.  Many for groceries; and household items we still had.  Mentally I have started to understand that the money has already been spent to buy the items, and nothing was bought with the intention of regaining any expenditure; so why on earth do I think that I have to try and re-sell anything now?  I am free to dispose of it, if it is taking up space and not serving us, like I am the receipt, and start afresh.  Liberating.

 

  • Gave away a display unit to someone who could definitely use it
  • Wrote a letter to a young woman graduating high school who doesn't have either parent alive to tell her how proud they are of her.
  • Designed some posters for the children's room at the cafe, along with signs/labels for the coffee area
  • Themed the Welcome Wednesday cafe for the 1st birthday celebrations, and for 1920's week
  • Gemma has joined Vega and I (Electra) working at the cafe, clearing tables and serving hot beverages and cakes to customers
  • Donated our lounge suite, table and chairs, pram, baby hammock and linen, hall stand, clothes dryer, front carry packs, baby back pack, car seat, bouncinette, entertainment unit, heater, bed linen, baby carry sleeping pod to Women's Refuge
  • Donated more than a dozen shopping bags of clothing and bric-a-brac to an opportunity shop
  • Vega re-gifted some money she'd been given to a young person who she thought deserved it for their hard work
  • Shared lunch with one of Atlas' clients who he'd been in an appointment with for a couple of hours and still had longer to go - just homemade pumpkin soup and toast - nothing fancy
  • Gemma made and gave away loom band bracelets to our neighbour's children, her sister and a guest - even making them to order
  • Made a batch of savoury muffins for the dear man losing his wife to cancer (doctors have given her days to live)
  • Vega made an assortment of bow ties for some young men to choose from, for an Art Deco outfit.  She also made a leather headband for a young woman; and co-oridinated and lent an entire outfit to another.
  • Atlas looked at an acquaintance's computer and didn't charge them when nothing was wrong
  • Thought about a barista student I work with when I saw an espresso cup and bought it for them just because.
  • Prioritised a family day outing first thing in the week because we needed to be kind to ourselves, make some memories and escape from 'normal' for a bit. 
  • Atlas helped the widow (above) make copies of the slideshow for his wife's funeral

 

Can I share something with you?

All these months that we have been doing random acts of kindness haven't come naturally or easily.  Many acts have been out of sheer determination and sacrifice.  

When we started I was at a rock-bottom.  Spent. Tired.  In desperate need of support. 

I have no idea why at that time, unless it was serendipity, that in my most weakest moment we found ourselves embarking on a trail of kindness for others.

It wasn't until a few months ago that I was reading about a young female who was engaged to be married and broke it off, devastated.  Her dad said to her "when you have nothing else, give" and she has consequently gone on to help thousands of people.

That's when the penny dropped - I was doing that - the giving, not the helping thousands of people!

There doesn't appear to be any sound evidence in the father's advice that guarantees to get you out of a funk but I believe there is a principle of focus involved.

When I started to look at ways to help other people, I was really trying to get inside their skins, walk in their shoes and generally empathise with them.  It took the focus off myself, and if but for a moment broke up the monotony of my day.

It did my heart good to think that in some small way I was making someone's day happier.

It delighted me that our children could also stop scrapping long enough to rise to the challenge of thinking about others and doing something positive and proactive.

No, I haven't arrived out the other side of 'just getting by' yet and I don't know if you ever really do. And no, our family hasn't suddenly become perfect.  

Bit by bit though I am pushing through and the kindnesses done for others have helped protect my heart from hardening and becoming bitter in the process.

21 August 2014

Who can resist a smile?

 

RAOK round-up documents the random acts of kindness or volunteerism that we have been able to do for others over the last month. Our focus is to do something for someone each week. Listing them here celebrates this goal, and we hope may help to make you more mindful of what you have to give too.

Over the last month I adopted the idea now called The Birthday Project, where one intentionally sets out to do acts of kindness on your birthday - one act for each year.  I really liked planning the ideas and noting down people I wanted to surprise even though I didn't get around to doing them all.  I invited my mum, dad, sister, brother, and aunty to do their own random acts of kindness on my behalf instead of buying me birthday gifts and have added theirs to this list as well.

 

  • Gave a grocery gift card to a solo mum.
  • Sent my mum and dad, a bag of yummy Berrylicious tea.
  • Shared chocolate brownie with my children for afternoon tea (at home).
  • Knitted a preemie beanie and socks for the SCIBU unit.
  • Donated a pair of easy-on slippers to a rest home.
  • Gave away 25 smilie face biscuits.
  • Made hot chocolate (with marshmallows) for the council and construction workers who were outside working late at night in the freezing cold.
  • Let a little beauty into the world of a teen, giving her a fabric transfer she could use as inspiration
  • Lent a micro-finance loan to Layali - a 43 year old widow in Iraq to buy a sewing machine and generator to support her family.  This brings our ratio of male to female back to 50:50 and lending to a 6th unique Kiva country.

  • Offered the inspirational luminaires made to theme the cafe for the last 8 weeks to volunteers and customers
  • Re-themed the space with a Kiwi theme, making 8 New Zealand cushions for the couches
  • Ran three training sessions, each for a couple of young people learning to make coffee; mentored two new baristas-in-training on the job; and ran a 2-week barista 101 mini-course within a Level 2 Hospitality qualification for young people.
  • Donated canned soup to the NZCU / Salvation Army food bank drive.
  • Gave a young lass a hug and some time, in the middle of a hectic day. 
  • 'RAOK on Friday was helping a little short old lady get her Calci-Yum. Top shelf, right at the back, it was even a stretch for me to get to the last few in the outer, so I brought them all forward so the next person could hopefully reach them. Lovely birthday idea to spread love and kindness.' Mum
  • 'I'm attending a fund-raising evening on your birthday - that will be my part in your idea.' Aunty J
  • 'Off home to make lasagne and cake to take to Ronald McDonald house as another RAOK for families living there.  Will freeze it in blocks for late night arrivals etc.' Mum
  • 'Just made another meal for my neighbour.  Does that count as one RAOK?' Sister (Sure does!)
  • My brother did his RAOKs and kept them private and I respect that.  (Love you man)
  • Vega crocheted a panda hat for a friend as a surprise just-because gift
 
More than 66 people directly affected by RAOKs this month.  No, I am not that old, but who said you had to stop after you'd reached your age in RAOKs?!  In fact there were more ideas on my birthday project hit list but I will keep chipping away at it and include them in our general round-up next month.
 
 
Guess what? It was really hard to give away the smilie face biscuits.
 
People were so closed and skeptical. They didn't even hear the words "Free biscuit" and their automatic response was 'no' or 'I don't have any change'. Some of these people could be swayed to accept them on a second pass but many just retrenched further behind their 'no'. It was weird and sad. Perhaps the biscuits were too big (a large Agee preserving jar lid) and looked like fundraising biscuits. Perhaps I ought to have made them smaller but the impact wouldn't have been quite so happy.
 
Are we really a culture that believes that you don't get anything for nothing to the extreme that we aren't even expectant or open to the opportunity any more. Kind used to be the way people were, or at least that is what I heard.
 
After the biscuit experience I really feel that we need a kindness revival, an in-real-life meme. What if we could slowly but surely reach every person in our city by either something we did or a chain-reaction that we started and others continued. Would there be such a thing as too much kindness? What would that look like? How would it affect and flow over into all areas of our lives? Would we get desensitized to kindness or would it naturally spill over outside the boundaries of where we live to other people in other places? Would it become a natural part of people's lives that it knit into their character instead of remaining an item on their to-do list?
 
I don't have the answers, and am only an infinitesimally small agent of change. As long as we still have people that can say 'no' to kindness, there is an opportunity, don't you think?

What kindness would you want done to/for you?  Can you do this for someone today?

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