Giving by nature

Giving by nature

Over the last few weeks a few people have been asking me why I am involved in Rotary and in the past I have had the same questions about the Cork Choral Festival and the Cork City Sports and any other organisation I have been part of. I find it a difficult question to answer and yet I know when I do become involved in something I have to give it everything I have got or it’s not worth being part of, so I guess the answer is deep-rooted somewhere in my value system.

I do believe I was born with the intent to make a difference on a large scale. Equally I was brought up to give back to society. I remember debates in school where most people came up with things that were important to them in the short term and me dreaming up concepts like world peace and large scale improvements that would affect communities. Even when I was a small child, I remember receiving comments on how I would come up with the strangest concepts towards the greater good of the community or whatever other cause took my interest at the time from suicide prevention to protecting the environment, etc. etc…

In my direct family my grand mother was a great campaigner in looking after people less fortunate, my dad was involved in a number of organisations for disabled and then sports events and really early on he got me little gigs as a volunteer to various sports events, which I always loved and enjoyed. So to be honest I personally believe that some of us are just giving creatures by nature, over time we learn to channel it into areas and things that are important to us.I have always been very aware that if all we do is focus on ourselves then we aren’t really living life for any purpose other than our own and whether it’s the dreamer or naieve person in me I believe we all have a higher purpose than that.

Personally I feel strongly that I was always destined to help others, how I could help keeps changing and evolving. Sometimes it is one at a time, sometimes more, but often I bring it back to the tale of the young person throwing starfish back into the ocean after they got stranded on the beach and someone commenting that he couldn’t save them all and he simply replied well it made a difference to that one. I would like to think that whatever I do will at least impact someone and ideally in the most positive way. If you think about it, even my business is focussed on helping others achieving more than they originally thought was possible.

A couple of themes do recur in the kind of causes I support these days, one is young people and the other is achievement whether this comes in terms of athletic or musical performance or simply learning new skills. I totally believe that if we give young people support and encouragement to achieve their best potential in whatever walk of life they choose, that we can make a big difference. That doesn’t mean this is not important for adults, considering it’s my core business to work with adults on achievement. I do find that young people may not necessarily receive the best options for a number of reasons often beyond their control, which can be family or geographical circumstances or disabilities etc, so creating more chances and teaching them that more is possible, I find worthy of giving my time and effort to often free of charge.

The best experiences I have had often involved doing things for other people without necessarily looking for the return favour, but just giving for the sake of making someone else’s life better even marginally so. I remember the day we helped build the school in Peru and then commited to keep helping the village with their building projects for a school, hospital and other sustainable local economy projects and all the men in the village insisting on coming to thank us one by one… that is something I will never forget.

The same when we take 24 students on our Rotary Youth Leadership Winners week to Belfast/Dublin and Strassbourg with the aim of making them understand the various complex political and cultural issues on the island of Ireland as well as the larger context of the European Union, we can see the students grow and create bonds for life as well as live an experience they won’t forget in a hurry and for some it shapes their study and career choices. The fun and feedback I receive in addition to all the time and sometimes not so nice bits of feedback in the preparation process are often forgotten at the end of a usually exhausting week purely because I get a kick out of seeing people move forward and grow.

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