Today, I had lunch at a Maria's Mexican restaurant, seated with one friend whose church offers affordable housing; and another friend is active in building affordable housing- homes for $90K earmarked for those earning a fraction of that; similar homes cost $300K -400K. At the next table, a prominent local elected official "walks the walk"- focusing builders on creating more affordable and “green” homes.
I then napped, changed from jeans to tie and jacket, and joined the enjoyable warm fellowship of a friend’s birthday dinner table for 22, at an old private club on Naples' beach. Several birthday guests actively raise millions each year for local charities through the auctions at the Naples Winter Wine Festival. Some write checks , others hammer nails for Habitat for Humanity. One guest’s young daughter, a Peace Corps worker, spent three years in Africa in a dusty village, bringing healthy changes through education- one family , one water well, one village at a time. Whatever people's financial status, or health, they unite in their focus on giving, and making a difference. It is truly "healing the world", often quietly done, one kind deed at a time.
On the other hand, I know those who are losing business accounts, jobs, and some can no longer afford rent or mortgage. Times are tough, and I fear getting tougher.
Reflecting on the positive energy of the kind people I was with at lunch and at dinner, I am thankful that people’s consciousness, (however secure or precarious in their own financial state), is focused frequently, constructively, and effectively on assisting those in a less fortunate position in life. Many people are one paycheck or one crop away from losing their decent lifestyle and or home, others are in a financial abyss, needing to ask for assistance. Good health can change to chronic illness.
Americans are more generous now than ever in assisting others in so many places and ways- in Florida, in Appalachia, New Orleans, Asia and Africa. Giving does not seem to discriminate along geography , religion, color or creed. We are our brother's keeper, he/she is our keeper when fortunes and health may change. Compassionate giving can relieves much of another person's pain.
Let us give thanks for those with compassionate giving hearts, and feel empathy for those who may do without, as Christmas, Hannukah, and New Years draws close. I am thankful that you and I, collectively, care to make a difference and assist others. With gifts of time, skills, goods or with a check, we can make life a little kinder, and times a little less stressful, for those in need.