Giving Back

I’m a fan of the show “Undercover Boss,” where CEOs of companies visit some of their store locations in disguise. They get to know their employees at a level that would not be possible in a “boss to employee” face-to-face meeting. They also get the straight story from these folks on exactly how well (or not) the company is doing.

I watched an episode featuring the Phenix Hair Salon company, where company president Gina Rivera went under cover. One of the hairdressers she met was Richie, a gifted stylist who visits a homeless shelter once each week to give ‘mini makeovers.’ He feels that, if people look good, they’ll feel good. As the cameras rolled, he kindly and compassionately cut and styled hair, trimmed beards and mustaches, and chatted with every person. The transformative effect on those people was heartwarming.

Later on in the week, there was a short feature on the news about a talented California hairdresser who also took to the streets with his scissors. Every Sunday, he offers free haircuts to the homeless, and he grooms those folks with the same care and skill he would have given his celebrity clients, who pay up to $150 per haircut.

What a simple and sweet gesture, and how much it meant to those people. As he explained to the camera crew, “When all of your time and energy each day goes simply to surviving; getting that next meal, and finding shelter each night, you don’t have time to worry about your appearance.” As the camera panned over the faces of those men and women who had enjoyed his services, the smiles spoke volumes.

In this still-new and still-hopeful year, what an inspiration for us all. So–this is my challenge for myself and perhaps you: can we make a bit of extra time in our busy lives to donate our talents in some way? However, we must first ask ourselves if we have the time and energy to do this and not sacrifice time that our loved ones need. A gift given grudgingly is no gift at all. Perhaps sharing our talents right now isn’t feasible; we may caring for an elderly or disabled relative in our home, we may have small children to raise, we may have a job that demands our full time and attention, or we may ourselves be suffering from pain or loss–in which case, we can at least wish others well.

But those of us who can spare some time, remember what a gift that bit of time is to someone else. If all we do is spend an hour at the local animal shelter, cleaning litter boxes and walking dogs, that is a gift. If all we do is to call someone who is lonely and chat for a few minutes, that is a gift. If all we do is to smile at a stranger, that is a gift.
For myself, I am declaring the year 2015 as the year I reach out and give what I can where I can. It’s a challenge for me, because I usually make grand plans for things like this, and build it up so much that I can’t possibly achieve it. So this year the plan is simple: do what I can as I can, and do it with a full and happy heart. Wish me luck!

One thought on “Giving Back

  1. diane kirkup says:

    Heartwarming to read this cold Sunday am Jane. I fall in the grieving lonely category right now. Prayer is what I can give and some bread to the birdies outside my window. When I recieve my heart lights up with gratitude. Giving and receiving completes the circle and makes it full. When I receive my heart lights up with gratitude. A gift to know both perspectives. I think we give more fully when we have been humbled to receive. Thank you for your sharing.

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