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Reflections on Charity

This morning, on my walk to get a coffee, I met a first nation man who stopped and said hello to Mackenzie, the little Westie dog I was walking with. Mackenzie went straight up for a hello and a pat (as open hearted puppies do) and opened the way for a smile and a small interaction between myself and the man.

This man was looking a little battle weary from life, as many of us are at the moment and when I said "Are you doing ok" he said "not really but its ok" he smiled and continued on his day. The interaction was warm and real - no fake walls or platitudes. These are the interactions that make me want to be better and do better.


This proud man did not want pity or sympathy, it was clear. But what can we do to genuinely reach out and be kind and supportive, respectful and open to others in our community, to really "see" the person in front of us, like this person, who is slightly adrift, sleeping rough and just perhaps needing a good feed and perhaps a safe haven to be himself? To understand what is really needed?


We know with Maslow's Hierarchy of needs that a safe place to lay your head, decent food and nutrition and clothing are the very basic requirements of an individual. Further up the pyramid are those things that make us more whole and actualised, self esteem and belonging, being seen by others, feeling that we have something to give and contribute to others that make us and the world a better place to be.


What I saw in this mans eyes was not what he needed to be given, though he obviously needed a safe place to rest and basic nurturing of a meal, but I saw there was so much he could give. There was a wisdom of experience that I wish I could take in fully so that I too could learn and understand what he knows, his perspective, I wanted to hear him.


There is a tendency to think of charity in terms of an us and them, the giver and the receiver. The power of being in a position to give and the lack of power for the receiver, but that totally misses the real truth for me.


For me giving gives in both directions, when done with the right intent. It builds us all up. Just because someone is on hard times now does not mean they do not also have much to give and contribute back. Listening and connecting, learning, understanding and empathy are critical actions that contribute to our wider social capital. Every story heard contributes to our own understanding and compassion.


Higher up the hierarchy of needs we find love and belonging, esteem and friendship. It is the deeper intent behind My Giving Table to encourage these life affirming feelings for all involved. More purpose and connection in action and conversation around the table, when a meal is shared with a higher purpose of respect and genuine interest.


People have asked why MGT have chosen the charities that we have to work with and support. I guess the answer is that we strive to align with charities founded on respect and dignity for all. Those who are working on the basic levels of fundamental physiological needs while aiming to lift and learn from the people they support.


If you are interested to know more about how you can join us in hosting an event with purpose and do something positive to assist our community to build kindness and social capital, with respect and dignity, please read here for more information.



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