Make it Happen #12: Lend a Stranger a Helping Hand

by - 6:30 PM

'Be kinder than necessary, to all you meet.' My uncle Mike wrote that in every e-mail he sent us. I never fully realized what those words meant, until I found myself in a situation were there was barely any kindness at all. That place was called high school.
As soon as I left the place, I started wondering what it would've been like if we'd been kinder ot eachother. I wrote my Make it Happen list with this in mind, I wanted to do something for someone else just because I could. I started out with small things. I helped people find their way, held doors open, you know the stuff. Tiny gestures of kindness. But then I got the chance to do something big.

From Envy's Make it Happen List
#12: Lend a stranger a helping hand whenever you can
Status: Awesomeness Achieved

Right after I graduated, I did some volunteering at a local vegetable garden, right next to a retirement home. The people who lived there reminded me of my own Grandma, who never fully recovered after spending some time in hospital at the beginning of this year. My Grandma doesn't go out anymore, not even to do some groceries. But when my Granddad drags her to the park, she enjoys every second of it. The same seemed to be true for the elderly people in the retirement home.
That made me think: what if I could do something to encourage the people from the retirement home to come out more often? 
I did some research, asked people here and there for advice and found out about a Dutch organisation called 'Ik ben geweldig'. The words 'Ik ben geweldig' are Dutch for 'I am awesome'. The main goal of this organisation is to encourage Dutch people under 24 to do something good for someone else. You have to fill in a form, explain your idea and if they like it, they fund your project up till €1000. So if you're Dutch and you've got a great idea, get your lazy ass moving and head to their website by clicking this link!

I doubted a lot about actually applying for this charity money. In the end, I just did it, because time was running out. I wanted to organize a high tea for the old people right next to their retirement home, in the vegetable garden, but doing that in October is not a good idea. I also wanted to plant a lot of flower bulbs, so the old people would be reminded of the high tea every time they look out of their window next Spring.
So I filled in the forms, had conversations over the phone and organized the whole thins within weeks. I didn't do everything all by myself though. My friend Rosanne helped by designing flyers and a social worker named Ellen gave me advice on how to do certain things and which things I could delegate, since I was also starting college around the same time.
A woman who also volunteers at the vegetable garden. gave me advice on what flowersto buy. At certain moments I was desperate, frustrated and scared, but it was amazing to see it all come together on September 19th.

Giving instructions to volunteers

Old people can be awesome too! You wouldn't believe how amazing
one of these men at the table was at playing the harmonica!
Oldies chilling out in the front, me freaking out in the back (stress!)

It was good to be able to do so much for these people. A lot of people asked me if I wanted to volunteer more often. I declined. Over the past few months I've lend a lot of strangers a helping hand: the elderly people from the retirement home, Belgian tourist who were lost in Rotterdam and handicapped people who had trouble getting in and out of stores. Now I need to focus on college. The only place I'll be volunteering is Teenage Blogger Central, but whenever I see someone struggling, I'll gladly help them out. After doing this, I felt like I could say I've made another thing from my list happen, but I'll never be truly done with this one. The world needs more kindness and this is my way of trying to achieve that.

Stay awesome, guys!

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6 Fellow Ramblers

  1. Wow that's awesome *___* I think it's amazing how you sat down and arranged that and everything- I'd love to do something like that as well! However, the concept of old homes is relatively new in Pakistan (joint family system is preferred and family supporting the elders etc) plus, there's not much motivation for social work (just study college university work etc etc).
    But this was awesome :D

    1. It sounds amazing, but you wouldn't believe how much blood, sweat and tears it cost me. Just kidding, but it did take a lot of time. On the upside: I'm not afraid to make important phone calls now! I used to be scared to death if I had to make a dentist appointment, and now I was calling all these people without even thinking about the responsibility I had.
      I always learn so much about your country when you comment on my posts. I always thought that reiterment homes would be normal in Pakistan too. The focus on school and career is the same here, though. Sad but true...

  2. Envy, you are amazing! Beautiful post!
    Thank you for sharing your awesomeness with us!:)
    It is so important to occasionally give up your own time to lend a helping hand to people...
    The Journeys' of my beating heart

    1. Thank you :) I've never thought of myself as amazing when I went through all this, I just wanted to do something good for a change. I'll keep sharing awesomeness with you, I'm already writing my next Make it Happen post!
      Helping people definitely means a lot to me now. I never realized how something small can make someone's day - until I started working on my Make it Happen list :)

  3. This was such a beautiful idea! I hope I have the time to do something like this in the future, and of course, I would always say you should put volunteering in ways like this ahead of helping at TBC! Again, awesome idea and post :)

    1. Thank you very much :)
      I'm currently not interested in any other volunteering than at TBC, since I can decide for myself when and how I do it :) That was one of the big problems with this project: people expected me to be available every single minute and forgot I went to college.
      I hope you can do some volunteering of your own soon!


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