Being an ambassador means you are an extension of a brand and you should exemplify the core mission and values of that organization. When I think of YouCaring, I think of compassion, which is why I chose to be a YouCaring Ambassador and help inspire kindness in people at home and around the world. As an ambassador, I want to demonstrate how easy and fulfilling it can be to show compassion every day, no matter how small or large your actions.
Ways I Give Back
Since I am a young adult and a year out of college, I am financially limited as far as how much I can give back. Since I can’t provide money, I try to offer my time, but even then it can be difficult to volunteer. Oftentimes, nonprofit organizations have strict time requirements for volunteers and ask for long-term commitments. While this has great benefits and I do hope to become a dedicated volunteer for a nonprofit in the near future, it’s just not viable for me at the moment.
So I have found other ways to give back to the community. One way was finding day-of volunteering efforts. On one afternoon, I joined two other YouCaring interns, Monica and Grace, at the Glide Foundation a couple blocks away from our office in San Francisco in to help serve its daily lunch program to the less fortunate. We helped serve more than 700 meals in less than two hours. Another time, we went down to the Larkin Street Youth Organization to help sort donated clothes for at-risk youth. This is one of the services the Larkin Street Youth provides so youth are able to dress for success during an interview.
Seeds of Compassion
Aside from participating in one-day volunteer events, I have found that performing random acts of kindness not only makes me feel better, but it encourages a more compassionate community around me. The pay-it-forward mentality impacts the person giving and receiving, and it also uplifts everyone around you, and your one act can amplify to eventually do good for many more people. Being the reason you made someone’s day a little brighter makes it all the worthwhile. One of my favorite efforts as a YouCaring ambassador was putting together some care packages to hand out to the homeless. It didn’t take us long to find people to give these to, and each person was more than appreciative.
Another time we set out the on the streets of Downtown San Francisco with a roll of quarters and some notecards. We helped fill expired parking meters and left extras at unused meters. Even though we didn’t hang around to see the effects of our random act, it felt good knowing that someone would walk out to their car ticketless.
Another interesting way I have given back was showing support for organizations I feel passion about. YouCaring intern Riz and I weren’t able to make it to the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles this year, so we made sure to make time to show our support during the Torch Run Ceremony in San Francisco.
Showing Love to the Firefighters
I have a special place in my heart for firefighters because my dad is one. I see the personal dedication they have for others and I also see the stress it can have on a person. Unlike an average 9-to-5 job, firefighter shifts are 24 hours long—not to mention it took the No. 1 spot for most stressful job in America for 2015, according to Forbes. A day can entail a range of emergencies—from fires to accidents to medical situation—with multiple calls coming in each day. Long hours and high-stress can take its toll, and these men and women are the backbone of our community.
Having the inside scoop, I knew most firefighters love their sweets. We wanted to show our appreciation to the first responders and thank them for their everyday courage and strength. So what better way than with some homemade baked goods? We had some of our in-house Betty Crockers bake their favorite treats the night before and walked down to some of the closest fire stations we could find. Luckily, we met up with San Francisco Fire Station 13 just as they were coming back from a call. We also went down to Fire Station 35 to pass off the rest of the sweet treats along with our gratitude.
And of course, later that evening I had to spread the love to the Contra Costa County firefighters where my father works. 🙂
Like Father, Like Daughter
Firefighters not only dedicate their lives to the community, they also find time to give back. Growing up, my dad wasn’t home as often as some of the other dads I knew. This made me cherish the time I had with him. Now, being older and also having a life of my own, I find other ways I can connect with him and one way we do is through volunteering. Firefighters have many ways they give back and one of them is through the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), an initiative called Fill the Boot. Once or twice a year, the firefighters collect donations from motorists and pedestrians at a busy street intersection in their turnouts and firefighter boots. Fill The Boot raises funds for MDA’s summer camps for children, professional and public health education, and other programs.
We spend the afternoon together, collect the money, I count the money and it’s all for a good cause.
With all the different ways of spreading kindness, and giving back, I realized you don’t need to be some big philanthropist to have a positive impact. Becoming a YouCaring Ambassador has helped me grow as a person. It’s a great feeling, too, knowing these types of experiences are helping my community grow more compassionately as well.
If you want to become a YouCaring Ambassador and spread compassion in your community and beyond, please register here.