Giving is Receiving

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” — Audrey Hepburn.

November in the United States has become linked with giving back to our world in some capacity. Thanksgiving is often a time when families and people choose to give thanks or give back. This spirit continues on through December as many holidays during this month connect with the idea of giving back. How do you give back, both as a family tradition or individually?

When I was a child I was part of many groups that volunteered in the community. I was in Girls Scouts, church and even my school. Often there were community events that allowed us children to be an active part of making a difference in someone else’s life. These events changed my life. I connected to them in a way that continued to change the idea of how I wanted to be in my community. The events I remember most are when we would sing Christmas Carols in a senior center. We went down the hallways and visited each room. The people were so happy to see us and that memory has remained with me years later. I also remember spending an entire day making apple pies to raise money for Girl Scouts. Again this stuck with me because I was working with a group and it was fun.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to travel to Africa and volunteer while also learning yoga. This also impacted my idea of giving back because it challenged me to look at why I liked helping others. Did I get something out of it? And was I truly connected to the people I was helping or did I do it because helping others made me feel like a better person. Was what I got from the experience more than those I thought I was helping? AND did these people I thought I was helping even want my help? Sometimes when we go into a situation with the intention to help we feel superior to them. We believe we have something to give that someone else needs and without us they would be less fortunate. BUT it is so important to look at this. Helping others makes us feel good. BUT connecting to other people who are different than us can also be an equal exchange. You may have money, time, material good that another person lacks, but what experiences and knowledge can that person give you?

IAEG has chosen to connect with a variety of organizations for this season of giving. With each location and person we give to we are also asking for them to explain to us more about themselves. We know we lack the knowledge that they provide and they need the energy and money we want to provide. I look forward to this season of connection and to what it can bring to all of you through our experiences. I encourage each of you to get involved with an organization that is making a difference and come at it from a place of connection and exchange not simple giving to someone or something less fortunate.


Andrea Mitchell