In 2012, I was at the bottom of the barrel. To me, it couldn’t get any worse.
The last four years had really put me through the wringer—infidelity that lead to a divorce, closing my design firm that I had worked so hard to achieve, the loss of a family member, and severe debt. Honestly, if one more person had told me, “God only gives you as much as you can handle,” I would have stabbed them with a pencil.
My breaking moment was August 21, 2012. That’s when I hit rock bottom. Sure, I had thrown that term around for years, but it didn’t resonate until I had a true taste of the meaning.
That day, I was in a networking meeting. It was 8 AM and Jane the realtor was asking everyone for help. You see, there was a gal at her church that was going through a difficult divorce and really needed help. Jane asked everyone to donate $20. She grabbed a big plastic bucket and sent it around the table.
But I was just like that girl. I was struggling. I was going through a divorce. I was about to lose my home. But they did not know that. They did not know that I didn’t have $20. I didn’t even have $5 dollars. My checking account that day was negative $300!
As I sat there holding the bucket with all eyes on me to do something, I felt the blood drain from my face. I was mortified, embarrassed, and humiliated.
I was not judged that day based on my circumstances. The people at that table assumed that I was monetarily selfish. “It’s only twenty dollars!” Jane said after the meeting. True, it was only $20, but you might as well have asked for $1000. I just didn’t have it.
What I did have was time and a broken heart that needed mending.
Quite frankly, Jane really ticked me off and made me feel small about my donation abilities (or lack thereof). But I realized that day that money isn’t the only way to give.
Through John the attorney, who also attended Jane’s church, I got this gal’s address. With a little clever thinking, I came up with a plan to help her out—a plan that wouldn’t cost me a thing.
At the time, I was volunteering at the local YMCA to help victims of domestic violence. I handled donations and sorted them out. The YMCA was very particular about which donations they would accept. That day, all the items that were deemed unacceptable came home with me. I was going to box them together as care packages. On August 21, 2012, humiliation turned into triumph.
I created a one-of-a-kind care package for the gal I didn’t know, but I knew exactly what she was going through. I drove it over to her home and placed it on her doorstep with a note that contained this quote:
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
With tears in my eyes, I felt so happy that I was able to give back in a way that no other person had. I knew I was on to something. I continued to build care packages and leave them on doorsteps and at local shelters. I would even hand them out on Sunday mornings.
I have learned to love random acts of kindness. In my eyes, this is the greatest gift—to show someone they matter.
Over the years, I have done many types of RAK: buying a meal for a stranger, transporting donations, even setting up someone’s first home after they lose everything. But my favorite is still the homeless care packages. My husband and I fill Ziplock bags full of goodies—money, food, hand wipes, grooming tools, and even hats and scarves. We put them together and drive around the city to hand them out. It’s incredibly fun, and we feel like we are making a difference.
For me, RAK can be many things. Big or small. It can be as simple as taking the time to say “Hello” to someone and asking about their day. It could be helping out a mother who’s struggling with her kids. Or paying the toll for the car behind me.
I’ve realized that it’s important to understand my blessings and give back to those in need. So whether I offer a care package, a pair of gloves, or even a warm smile, I’ve learned that small actions can make a big impact.