Offering grace to those who help others

I am a member of the Oregon attorney general’s Sexual Assault Task Force. I was at our quarterly meeting in Salem last week and could feel the depleted energy level from people who spend their lives working for equity for our citizens who live on the edge.

Since I don’t work full-time as an advocate, I have the luxury of “tuning out” when I feel the need. Most of them cannot. Reality is as close as the next phone call or email.

I will say that these are some of the most brilliant and committed people you will find anywhere. They deserve our respect and our overt support.

The premise:

People who work for nonprofits are often referred to as “in the helping professions.” They help feed people who are hungry, look for housing for homeless, assist victims of crime, treat alcohol and drug addicts, house and feed homeless mothers and their babies, advocate for children, attempt to get medical care for those in need who cannot afford it, work for equity for all minority groups. In other words, they help the most vulnerable among us.

The issue:

Funding for many of these programs has either been cut or is at risk. Policy changes being implemented at the federal level are hacking away at equity gains that many have worked years for.

The problem:

These nonprofit workers are going to work every day not knowing what may befall them and their clients. What will the losses be this week to those who already have less than the rest of us?

The effect:

Our army of allies working endless hours to help others may run out of steam. If that happens the people who have the greatest need will pay once again.

Needed action:

That friend or friends you have who work for a rape, suicide, domestic violence crisis line? Check in on them, with a text, call or email. Share coffee or a meal. Your friend who works with abused kids, immigration or victim legal services? Same.

The philosophy:

We are in hard times. Those of us who are hunkered down avoiding the news and trying to wait out the storm are needed. The world needs our smile and our compassion. And I’m not talking about clever posts on FaceBook. I’m talking up close and in person. I’m talking about being intentional about helping each other have a little better day, if only for a few minutes. Ease off the gas a little and let somebody get in line ahead of us without the usual single-fingered gesture. Be kind. Remember to thank service providers.

The oath:

I will offer to others that which I wish for myself. I will attempt this not just when it is easy or convenient for me, but I will put in extra effort when I see someone struggling who could use a small kindness.

Prayer to the universe:

Grant me the understanding to know I can make the difference merely by my presence.

— Randy Ellison is an author and advocate who lives in Ashland.

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