A full course meal: Part 5 of Snack Size Bites to Feed the Soul

I’ve been excited to talk about the topic of ‘Giving Back’ in this blog series of Snack Size Bites to Feed the Soul.  Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in  the service of others.” Who couldn’t argue that giving back is the ultimate nourishment to feed the soul.

I must admit I wasn’t a 'full-time-give-backer' most of my adult life. I appeased my ‘oh I give back’ by doling out money each year to various organizations and maybe doing 1 or 2 events because my company or my son’s hockey teams asked for participation.

However, last summer, before the layoff and after the extensive move to our beautiful new home in Constance Bay, I started to feel a void in my gut; something was missing in my amazing life and I wasn’t quite sure what it was…...

Until I attended a Leadercast Women event in early October which focused on ‘Powered by Purpose’. Ten incredible speakers offering inspirational and motivating stories and tools on finding one’s purpose. It was my ah-ha moment. I remember how emotional I was when confiding with a friend that day realizing this was the root cause of my void.

We started brainstorming on some ideas we could contribute to within our new community. Little did I know that a month later after this event, I would be faced with the challenge of also my professional purpose ☹ and as shared at the beginning of this Blog series, a testament to things happen for a reason. Being given a lot of free time now to truly invest back into the community.

Some people immerse in a particular cause largely due to a personal attachment to the mission of the organization because they or their loved ones have been deeply impacted by something. For me, I took more of a diverse approach to giving back for a number of reasons:

  • specifically designed to help me get to know the new community I now live in,

  • to have the opportunity to meet amazing people along the way,

  • to lead by example for my son who’s entering high school next year wanting him to embrace the designated volunteer program mandated for him

  • and simply, for good karma. Pay it Forward if you will. See this article that validates the scientific facts to the benefits of volunteering.

If you're looking for a diverse approach like mine, here are some small tidbits to get the juices flowing:

  • Choose Local for immediate gratification. Volunteering in one’s community means investing in it as well. I promise you will feel the impact and difference YOU can make.

  • Pick priorities that mean something to you. For me, that included:

    • Children because I am blessed with motherhood to some amazing kids;

    • Women because I believe that empowering women makes the world a better place;

    • Less Fortuned because as Mark Sutcliff taught us at the recent TedXKanata event we all have the ability to redesign our world to eliminate the role of luck in people's lives.

  • Get social to help get the word out. Don’t think it is about tooting your horn. Rather, your ability to enable ‘awareness’ on causes that do not have large advertising budgets and therefore welcome your self-promotion😉 And so here are mine!

    • Junior Achievement. A global amazing organization providing awareness to children on the aspects of businesses. Most communities have JA programs; ours supporting the Ottawa region have some spectacular folk running it! I honestly could argue this is some form of entertainment because its just so darn fun to do!!

Me & my Bestie leading the JA Be Entrepreneurial with Gr 5-6;s

Me & my Bestie leading the JA Be Entrepreneurial with Gr 5-6;s

  • Food banks. I’ve done this in Toronto and now in Kanata. Regardless of scale, it’s a necessity and in my opinion our responsibility to help thy neighbor…..And not just at Christmas time either (which admittedly was my cadence).

  • Schools & sports your kids attend. Some advice here? Don’t pass judgment on teachers and coaches if you aren’t involved in some capacity. That’s the same as complaining about your government and not voting! Go Stonecrest and Go WC Crusaders hockey!

Me & my son Tye at the Kanata Food Cupboard

Me & my son Tye at the Kanata Food Cupboard

  • Empower Women. I discovered this incredible organization, the Lanark County Interval House by way of a Fundraiser Gala I attended in the Fall that raised over $30K for their women’s shelter and support program. They are the only dedicated antiviolence agency in Lanark County supporting women and their children in managing and fleeing violence and abuse. The word ‘courage’ comes to mind when I think of these women (including the staff).

  • Find a role model. During my networking stints in December, I’ve had the privilege of meeting ‘the’ community contributor of Kanata North Jenna Sudds. She was instrumental in connecting me to some of the above organizations. Her inspiration for what she has and is doing for the community has challenged me to ensure that this influx of giving back needs to continue once back in the business of employment. Jenna is running for City Council for Kanata North, so if you live there, I encourage you to follow her and learn more about her campaign to continue to better the community.

Well, that's it for now. Hopefully, Part 5 has prompted some personal reflection on how you can give back.  I’m optimistic that my next career journey will allow a hybrid of giving back. Only time will tell.

Signing off....volunteer day today!

Kimberley Behnan