Pay It Forward: Charitable Community Contributions Don’t Always Come in Cash

While sitting in a traffic jam this morning I witnessed something I thought only happened in the movies.

A young man (probably about 13 years old on his way to school) was standing on the street corner with a bunch of other kids. Next to them stood an elderly lady with her head down balancing grocery bags in one hand, and leaning on a cane with the other. I’m not sure which direction she came from, but it was clear that getting to that point had to be a struggle.

While sitting in my car waiting for the stop light to change, something really beautiful happened. As the other kids took off, the young man offered his arm to steady the lady and took the grocery bags in his other hand. Slowly but surely he escorted her across the street. The two walked together arm in arm landing at the bus stop a few feet away. The elderly lady sat down to rest and the young man continued on his way. As I drove by both afterwards I noticed a commonality: both had the biggest, most beautiful smiles on their faces.

The sun had been up for less than an hour, and in that instance I received my daily dose of sunshine.

I’m not quite sure that there is anything that feels as good as being charitable. A friend reminded me recently that in order to be giving, sometimes, we also have to receive. And when it comes to “being giving”, it isn’t always about giving money. Being charitable with your time, words and actions can sometimes make a bigger impact than by simply writing a check.

I think about this often in this new phase of my life. I’m working with a lot of different clients, but I am still searching for my next true career path. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do, but I am clear on the person I want to be. I find daily inspiration by many who have simply reached out to see if there was anything I needed. These are busy people with full lives, families and booming careers. Despite all of that, they have made room in their lives for me. Many of these people are acquaintances, who have reached out and agreed to have lunch with me, or share a cup of coffee or simply chat for a few minutes on the phone. They have helped carve a new path for me, and the only thing they asked for in return… is that I “Pay it Forward.”

Cover of "Pay it Forward"

Cover of Pay it Forward

I love the idea of “Paying it Forward”. The concept is simple: repay a good deed, by doing something good for someone else. This is not a new concept. It gained a lot of attention in 2000 with the Haley Joel Osment movie of the same name. I’m happy to report the spirit of the movement is thriving. I witness it almost daily in my life and I try to “Pay it Forward” as well.

It’s late afternoon now, and I’m still touched by the fleeting moment I saw while sitting in traffic this morning. How I wish I knew that young man’s name! His mother would be proud. I’m sure he has no idea that others witnessed his simple act of kindness, which makes it even that much more beautiful.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” -Mohammed Ali

It’s great to be good, but doing good is so much sweeter.

Shine On!!!

10 thoughts on “Pay It Forward: Charitable Community Contributions Don’t Always Come in Cash

  1. Julie… I love this story… and in particular that the kindness came from a very young boy. In this age of bully stories abounding it’s delightful to know there’s a young teen in Tulsa who cares about others! My favorite quote fits this situation too! ” We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”- Winston Churchill Thanks for sharing your sunshine!

    • How funny– I almost included that exact Winston Churchill quote! Love it and love you Judi for all the amazing work you do with Turn Tulsa Pink in this community:)

  2. Julie…this is so goooooood!!!!! I remember the Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials of a few years back which covered this type of event. Keep up the good work!

  3. I’m so glad Judi shared this! I’ve always thought that you are such a positive person Julie. What a sweet picture to have in your mind all day and that middle schooler made a brave choice in front of his friends. That lady must have felt like a million bucks after that! And how appropriate since today it is “Drive Thru Difference Day” @ KXOJ, to think about paying it forward by paying for the next person’s order.

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