Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Rewards of Paying it Forward!

Too many people go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. They'll take all they can take and give little or nothing in return. These are the type of people I avoid. It doesn't matter how much you do for them, it'll never be enough and to hear them talk, you realize that no matter how much they have, it will never be enough for them. 

It's OK to want more in life and to want to better your life and I believe that believing anything different is unnecessarily depriving yourself of a life of abundance.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting financial security and nice things for your family. Too many people have been brainwashed through their religious beliefs that wanting more is wrong. I'm violently opposed to that teaching and try to reverse it anytime I can with people who are simply afraid to wish for more. 

The key to abundance is making sure that you pay it forward. What I mean by that is, that you make sure you give back to the world. I'm surprised by the responses I get to this statement sometimes. 

Most of the people I talk to tell me: "Well, I give my tithe to my church". 

That's honorable, but what's wrong with taking the choice of how your gift is used back into your own hands? Sure, it's easier to leave a check in the collection plate, but there is more to paying it forward than that. Paying it forward includes the effort, thought, and feeling involved in giving back to the world. It includes being part of the changes your giving will make in the lives of those you give too. It involves being part of the joy that is giving. 

How many times in a week do you hear about people in need? Maybe it is a co-worker or a neighbor, or a friend of a friend.  Do you have any idea how your giving would effect their lives? The most common excuse I hear for this is that people are too proud to take from you or you don't want to embarrass the one in need by offering money, help, or other things. 

You don't have to embarrass anyone. let me share the Angel Fly By project with you. And NO, this is not an attempt to get you to give anything... just read. 

Eleven years ago when I launched the website. Many of the women who came to the site were recently left single by their spouses or significant others. The whole purpose of J4L was to help people through the devastation of heartbreak.  As the community grew and I got to know the ladies who came looking for help, I learned that many of them had been left with little or nothing.  Divorce and separation can cause people who otherwise loved each other to do some pretty shitty things to one another.  I saw this first hand. 

As time went by I tried to offer help, but I was often met with strong pride or embarrassment to be taking "charity". In my eyes, it wasn't charity, it was simply helping another person through a tough time. The site received donations even though we didn't ask for them and I felt I needed to find a way to use those gifts for the women who came there looking for help. I created the Angel Fly By program. 

Upon joining the J4L website, visitors had to fill in a registration form which contained their general information like name, address, etc.  This information would later come in handy. 

The first Angel Fly By we did was in August of 2000. There were about 7 women who were worrying about how they were going to send their kids back to school as their soon-to-be ex-husbands had left them with no money. These women were struggling to put food on the table. The thought of having to clothe the kids for the upcoming school year left them feeling defeated and helpless.  I've been there and done that... I had to find a way to help without making them feel any worse. 

Enter the Angels. 

I sent emails to all of the J4L members save the ones who were in trouble. I explained what these ladies needed and with the help of some of my local friends we were able to get most of the kids clothing and shoe sizes, etc. I then asked anyone who could help to send me what they could for these women. 

The response was OVERWHELMING. We had more than we needed and then some! With the permission of the givers, we even put some of the stuff back to give away at Christmas time. 

Myself and my kids and friends boxed the items up. Everyone started to really get into the spirit of what we were doing and some of the gals included little toys, a bubble bath basket for the moms (to take a much needed rest and pampering day), the boxes were loaded to the gills with clothes, school supplies, and all kinds of goodies.  We wrapped the boxes in white paper with silver ribbons and put them into shipping boxes and one box was for a local lady. With her box, we waited until we knew she was at work and brought the box to her home and left it at her front door. One of our gals actually sat on her street for 2 hours to make sure no one would steal it. 

We shipped the boxes out and never told these moms where they had come from. We have some idea about how they reacted because they came to the J4L forums ands shared the "miracle" they received. They may have caught on that the J4L girls had something to do with it, but we never admitted it.  We were content knowing that for a short time, we made their lives a little brighter and gave them the hope to carry on. 

The moderators who helped package the boxes began planning for the next "Fly By". It became a regular program and to this day, we still do it. We keep it as secret as possible. All of us just KNOW we're making a difference.  The people who participate int he Fly By project are generous to a fault. We've always got more than enough to send and we'll often go into our chat room and talk about the wonderful things we're giving to the people who need them and imagine how the receiver might react. The gals "troll" the message boards on the site like highly skilled detectives to pick up on any serious needs and then we include a wish/want/need list in the registration.  It's become of favorite thing to do. We even did an Angel Fly by at my kids school for prom a few years ago. One girls mom had passed away and she was living with relatives, they had no money to purchase a prom dress and all that goes with it.. Our angels fluttered into the guidance counselors office with a donated Vera Wang gown, shoes, and a HUGE basket of beauty supplies.. we left it with the guidance counselor, explained who we were and as she sat there in tears listening to us, she told us she would call the young girl to her office and tell her an angel stopped by... that little girl had the BEST dress at the prom and it touched our hearts to learn that after prom, she gave it to a friend at another school who was in the same situation. THIS is chain reaction PAYING IT FORWARD!! 

I can honestly say that this way of paying it forward is very rewarding for me and the women who help me. I can't think of many things that feel better than knowing we've helped someone with no expectations of ever receiving anything in return. The gift of giving is by far, the greatest gift. 

Do I think my success is a result of this spirit of giving? In a way, yes I do. 

I believe that the more we have, the more we should give. In my life it always results in more success in all areas.  I don't look at my successes as things I need to save or put back for a rainy day... My husband and I can give and still have plenty left for our family to enjoy. 

The more we give, the more we receive. It's just a fact. But the giving has to be done with no regrets or worries. When you think about giving and feel hesitant in your heart because your worried about being left with less, you're not really giving. You're simply repeating a behavior that says you have to give to get. It usually ends up leaving you feeling like your in a tug-a-war with yourself. 

Start off small... instead of throwing your check in the collection plate be receptive and AWARE of what's going on in the world and lives around you. Make a difference using your own sense of creativity and giving spirit and then give and see how it feels and watch how it comes back to you. Don't wait for it or expect it... just move forward and watch.

Here are some suggestions for doing your own Angel Fly By:

1.  If you know someone is out of work and facing a tough holiday season  you can leave an envelope with a Visa Gift card in their mailbox. Just put To: The Person  From: Your Angel  on the card. If it's a large family, think about getting a few friends to secretly participate and contribute to the card. The Visa gift card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted so it eliminates the risk of giving cash and allows the recipient the option of shopping wherever they want.  If you're going to make this a group thing, find out if the family's utilities are paid, maybe assign an amount to each person in the group that they can afford or are able to pay/give.  

2. SO MANY homeless people are NOT delinquents... many of them are just down on their luck and need some help... grab a meal from a local take-out, just drive by and hand them the bag of food and keep going. 

3. Know of a single mom who is struggling? These gals are the perfect people to do an Angel Fly By for. They are usually in need of EVERYTHING! Anything you do for them will help. ANYTHING even babysitting for a few hours so they can have some "me time". 

4. Know an elderly couple or person? Just show up with a plate of cookies or a few days worth of meals and offer to help around the house or go shopping or run errands for them. Even if they object.. tell them you're staying until they tell you what they need. Seniors are often the hardest to help as they have much pride. 

5. Contact your local police department or social service office and explain what you're doing. Ask them to pick a family (or more than one if you can do it) and get the ages, sizes, etc of the kids, mom and dad... get someone in your group to dress up as Santa and "arrive" with a sack full of goodies... we did this one year with our youth group, one of the kids dressed up as Santa and we went to a family who was in great need of food, clothes, everything. We showed up 15 strong with a VAN full of goodies and I will NEVER forget the looks on the faces of the little boys and even mom and dad as they stood on the porch watching our "elves" unload the gifts... it was priceless and something I;ll take with me to my grave. 

The holidays are a great time for giving, but people need help all year round so don't limit your giving to just the holidays... be aware of the people who need help and pay it forward no matter what the day! 

I'd love to hear your stories about paying it forward.. nothing is more inspiring than hearing about giving... please, share with us in the comments section? I'll include as many as I can in the next eZine! 

Until we meet again... SIMPLY BELIEVE!!


  1. Shell,
    You are a good person--a practicing Christian, the kind our Lord wants us to be.

  2. Thank you for the compliment Ann, I try my best to be a good person.


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