How can you help the world become a better place?
Friends, family, YOU....this song has been haunting me for a few weeks now, so I thought if I wrote about it I might get some peace...
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Big question this week...what IS the bigger picture? WHY are you existing in this time and in this space?! I think we [myself included] tend to concentrate so much of our energy on all of the little day-to-day b.s. life hands us that we're missing out on the larger purpose our lives are meant to serve.
Maybe you kinda get what I'm saying here...maybe something in the back of your own mind whispers to you to "get over" yourself and find a way to make a difference in the lives of the human beings around you...or, on the other side of town, which may not be so nice and shiny clean. Maybe you just need a nudge...
A couple of years ago I watched a Dr. Phil episode (yah, I know HIM again...) about volunteering for a national program called CASA (which stands for Court-Appointed Special Advocate). Essentially it is a mentoring program wherein you are trained to follow/mentor a family going through the child-protection system. As an advocate I spend time with the child(ren) involved in the case...one on one, I also stay in contact with their school/therapist/foster home/CPS worker/attorneys on the case as well as any appropriate relatives. Each case lasts about a year, sometimes 18 months. This is the length of time the state has to determine the outcome of the child(ren). During that time the parent(s) who have gotten their child(ren) taken away for whatever abuse/neglect reason [hopefully] get their act together and complete the things the state requires (employment, a stable living situation, get off drugs, take parenting classes and sometimes all of those things) and the family is able to be reunited. If that doesn't happen in the allotted time period, the child(ren) are placed for adoption. Of course the ultimate goal, whenever possible, is family reunification.
I am involved in one case at a time which means I have more personal interaction with the family then CPS or any of the attorneys on the case because they handle dozens of cases simultaneously. I am also responsible for appearing at all of the court hearings regarding the case and relaying to the judge my perspective of what is going on so he/she can make an informed determination as to what should take place next (this ends up being about 5-6 times per case).
At this time I am involved in my third case. I have always asked for a family with only one child (specifically a preadolescent or teenage girl) because I know my "free" time is limited and because I know a lot of advocates prefer being involved with the toddlers and small children, but less are interested in working with the older kids. In my new case there is a "bonus"...my [15-year-old] CASA child is a brand new mom. There are a great many obstacles and intricacies to her case. But, bottom line, she needs as many positive adult role models in her life as she can get. Don't all kids for that matter? Admittedly, it is not always convenient to make the calls or visits that need to be made, but I feel like I might just have a shot at making a difference in this girl's life.
My telling you this story is not to pat myself on the back, it is meant to get you thinking about how, in whatever way/shape/form you are comfortable and passionate about, YOU too can make a difference in the life of someone else. Maybe it's a meal program, maybe it's fundraising for cancer research, maybe it's visiting a local nursing home and reading to an elderly person, maybe it's an international cause...whatever IT is, I promise you when you take the time to look at the "bigger picture" and reach out beyond your own little world your heart will expand and you will feel happier. And more grateful for the life you are leading.
Life is short, we've all heard that a million times. But have you ever really contemplated the simplicity of that statement? WE ARE FINITE PEOPLE, our time here ends. What are you doing that is really making a difference? Are you just existing in "your own little world" or are you going out of your way to change the things you often waste your time griping about?!