Like we don’t have enough to do already. Work, kids, some exercise, holding the house together and getting in that mah jongg game keeps me busy! We’re all busy, but when I was asked to join the Good Deeds Day in Howard County committee, I had to say “yes!” I felt I had something to bring to the table: a skill, connections, enthusiasm that would enhance the event and get more people to participate. That by saying yes, I would create an opportunity for other people to be their best and give of themselves.
The 2017 Good Deeds Day, an international event, is now 11 years old and Howard County’s second year participating. Last year, approximately 1.5 million participants from 75 countries volunteered, marking it the largest and most global day yet. Events were held in New York City, Sao Paulo, Rome … and Howard County! Good Deeds Day founder Shari Arison, from Israel, believes “that if people will think good, speak good and do good, the circles of goodness will grow in the world.”
It’s certainly true that “circles of goodness will grow” in quantity, but the circles also grow within ourselves every time we participate, become more empathetic and expand our consciousness to the concerns of others.
On a trip to Israel, I met a woman who exemplified this value of giving and inspired me to give back to the Howard County community upon my return. Miriam Peretz lost two sons to war and voluntarily shares her painful story, educating visitors and keeping the memory of her sons alive. She tells her story so “other children can live in peace,” explaining that her children viewed military service “as a mitzvah and a privilege, not an obligation.” Miriam’s talk is raw, authentic and heart-wrenching and enables her sons and their values to live on.
Although Good Deeds Day volunteering is not as drastic a sacrifice, it allows us to connect to our community and each other, taking the focus off of ourselves to direct attention to how we can help someone else. I think of volunteerism as the “secret sauce” or the prescription that, in focusing on someone else, causes whatever little pity party I’m having to dissipate.
This Good Deeds Day on April 2, join us as we donate hundreds of volunteer hours to Howard County. It’s a great way to grow those goodness circles.
Vicki Harvey is a member of the Jewish Federation of Howard County’s Good Deeds Day Committee. Join her on April 2 at Howard Community College for arboretum beautification.