"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher
By Molly Yuska, PGK Founder
I'm on the plane back from San Francisco. PGK's second Create the Change Day in the past five weeks in the books. I'm spent. Truly, it's been a while since I have run on such fumes. I realize, literally on the flight, that Thanksgiving is next week. I've done nothing. No turkey ordered. No plans made. Nothing. Some probably figure that's no big deal. Always easy to get a turkey, right? But the fact is my daughter's birthday comes right after that, which means I've done nothing for that either. Where has 2017 gone? How is 2018 almost here? And how am I headed headlong into my favorite season completely unprepared?
I've spent 2017 focused on trying to move PGK to the next level that I have moments like these that literally blindside me. I've got four kids. Every mother of four feels blindsided at times, I think. It's unavoidable. The numbers just aren't in our favor. But lately, I've found myself very reflective, and seemingly blindsided all to often. In my quest to do the right thing, am I actually doing the right thing? Am I driving hard to instill compassion in the next generation but not being as compassionate with my own kids as I should be in the midst of my busyness? With myself? (Definitely not the latter.)
I struggle to find the balance lately, but yet I can't seem to walk away from this movement I've tried to start either. The world seems in such need of more compassion and hope. And as much as I am sitting here struck by my realization that the holidays are coming and I'm not ready, I was just handed another "moment" too. Next to me sits an elderly woman. Between us are a lot of years and a language barrier. She offers me her Spanish magazine, the equivalent of People. I graciously take it and see if I can read any of it. Few words here and there, sadly. Later, I look her way as she starts to eat her airplane pretzels and she offers me one because our eyes meet. And I'm struck, hard. Kindness is universal. It is the thing that needs no language, knows no age, has no boundary. We all crave it. We all thrive on it. We are struck by it when we see it, because we have no choice but to feel it too.
Heading home with guilt for being gone and exhaustion from too little sleep, I write and think, and feel my eyes well up. Kindness and compassion are too important not to devote one's energy and time to fostering it. I even have the good fortune of having a vehicle through which to do so. So, I will land in a couple of hours, give a lot of kisses, order a turkey tomorrow, and hop on Amazon with plenty of time to still get birthday gifts (thank goodness). And I will remind myself that as my days fly by, every one of us has a chance to be the old lady next to me - to touch the hearts of those around us with thoughtful, and often simple, acts of kindness and compassion.
THAT is something to be thankful for. Bring on Thanksgiving!
By Amy Johnson, Outreach and Marketing Manager, PGK - Bay Area
If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen and read all the hype about simple living. Edit your life! Less is more! Simplify, simplify, simplify! While I’m all about this in theory, I’m a work in progress when it comes to practice. Our family has taken baby steps, and I will admit that each step forward brings about a bit more breathing room, and in turn, a bit more happiness.
Whether by happenstance or because I’ve got simple living on the brain, the concept of simplicity has made its way into our service. Our church is participating in Village House, an interfaith program through which 15 homeless women are provided shelter and services through the winter. The program relies on volunteers to offer a variety of support, from providing medical care to serving as campus watch. Our family signed up for laundry duty. Once a week, we collect a dirty laundry bag belonging to one of the guests. We bring it home, wash, dry, and fold the clothes, and return the bag that evening. All without ever seeing the woman whose laundry we just folded. It’s been an interesting experience in service because not only is the act super simple (who doesn’t enjoy a pile of freshly laundered clothes?), it is also anonymous.
I started brainstorming other simple, anonymous acts of service we could do as a family and was totally inspired! Here’s the best of the bunch for those of you who want to give it a try. Maybe you’ll find that simple giving is the first step towards simple living.
Simple Giving Ideas
- Walk your shopping cart back to the front of the store. Better yet, offer to take someone else’s cart! (I have been the recipient of this while juggling two toddlers and was sooooo grateful)
- Next time you bake cookies, make an extra batch for your local fire department, police department, or nursing home.
- Bring a trash bag with you to the park and collect litter you find along the way. (But please don’t forget to wear gloves!)
- Pick up a few extra groceries to donate during your next shopping trip. Most stores collect donations on site.
- Pay for a stranger’s bus fare or cup of coffee. Perhaps you’ll start a pay-it-forward trend!
- We have a difficult time when we come across someone asking for help at an intersection. Keep granola bars or bus tokens in your car to give when you encounter someone asking for help. Or if you want to go further, make a few sock sacks to keep in the car and pass out when needed. Fill a new pair of socks with individually wrapped snacks and a water bottle. It will be a useful and portable treat for them to enjoy.
- Remember all those packets of crayons you collected from restaurants? Donate them to a local preschool or family shelter. You could even start a Crayon Collection!
- Leave a nice note or poem for your mail carrier to enjoy.
- Help someone with a stroller get through a door or around an obstacle. Again, I’ve been the recipient of this and was very grateful!
- Like to craft? Make greeting cards or paper flower arrangements for your local hospital or nursing home.
- Give your neighbor a heart attack! Simply cut up a bunch of hearts from pink, red or purple paper, write sweet messages on them, and tape them on your neighbor’s outside front windows. Pinterest is your go-to place for more ideas like this (Boo Grams, Candy Grams, etc.)
- Are you the next David Blaine or Harry Houdini? Take your magic show on the road to a local children’s hospital or nursing home.
- Last but note least, open the door for someone else. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!
Bay Area Begins
Spotlight: Bay Area Begins with Festivals, Markets & New Friends
We are just getting started in the Bay Area and to kick things off, PGK teamed up with our new partner, My New Red Shoes, to get a jump start on the Back-to-School season, making nearly 200 cards to accompany the Back-to-School bags they provide to students in need to help get their year off to good start.
Participating in a Facebook Festival in May, two farmer's markets in June and July, and gearing up for our final summer appearance at the Facebook County Fair on August 26th, PGK has been connectinig with kids to give them a chance to bring smiles to other students, just like them, and to make sure they know there are lots of other ways they can make a difference - all they need to do is check out the PGK website or the newly launched PGK mobile app, YouthGive.