Find Yourself By Being of Service to Others
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”
There is a dogma about service. It is the notion that service can only be legitimate if it comes from a selfless place. Service has a positive impact on everyone involved. Some of my community services involve supporting individuals who find themselves homeless. They often have drug and alcohol problems as well as mental disabilities. Most have terrible self-loathing. Usually, I suggest they be of service to others. The practice chips away at their disappointments and their circumstances. One day, such an individual looks in the mirror and likes what he or she sees. Service transforms all of us.
Martin Luther King Jr. once shared,
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
Community service and giving elevate entire corporate cultures and professional career paths. When we bring community service into an organization it continually binds that workplace to the light of being committed to something greater than ourselves.
Many of the most fired-up, engaged and joyous professionals have committed their lives to service. One of the most fired-up, engaged, and joyous leaders I’ve worked with is Stephanie Klasky-Gamer. I met Stephanie right after she was appointed to becoming President and CEO of LA Family Housing. The organization provides housing to over 3,000 of our city’s homeless – primarily families. Stephanie is one of our nation’s leading voices for solving homelessness.
Here is her story.
Stephanie, What role does LA Family Housing play in Los Angeles?”
“We provide a unique role in that we demonstrate homelessness is a solvable problem. We can end it. We have developed the flexibility and creativity to meet homelessness in all of its various stages and these solutions are becoming templates for homeless organizations throughout the country.”
You bring up the diversity of examples of homelessness. What do you mean?
“We serve the single father who is facing homeless for the first time. That father has different needs than a family that has been homeless for years. Here is one of our more recent examples: We were invited by a council member in the Sunland/Tujunga area to visit the Tujunga Wash. This area was filled with long-term homeless. Most of them were older, many were couples and were accompanied by pets. There was a rural dynamic that was vastly different from our urban homeless. We built housing in the area and welcomed them indoors. We constructed the accommodations to support couples. We built a dog park.”
You welcomed them. What a difference that is then putting up with them.
“Most organizations use the word ‘accommodate.’ When we make people feel welcome that dynamic removes fear. Trust and respect open doors for them to move forward. Some of our clients survived 15 and 16 years in the outdoors. By giving them respect and trust they are able to become stable far more quickly.”
How were you influenced and shaped?
She laughed, “You shaped me!”
Hardly. You demonstrated such willingness and courage to
“My family was all about social justice. I grew up in an environment where caring for others was the norm. Everything that all of the people that came into my life to support my development emerged from the kernel of how I was raised.”
How charitable work and community service impact individuals and organizations?
“Our culture conditions us to look the other way. We pay a high price for that reaction, not just as a culture but in terms of personal awareness and full living. There are 58,000 homeless in greater Los Angeles. Most people feel they can’t help. But when we become involved, there is invariably a wonderful surprise. We open our eyes. We realize we can help. That very process elevates us as human beings.
The same event happens within the organizations that support us. The luxury real estate company Partners Trust donates money and time to LA Family Housing. Their associates are encouraged to contribute a portion of each sale to the cause. They also participate in events with our clients and this is bringing a new dimension to their corporate culture. These are highly successful business people who are extending themselves into being part of a community solution. Any company that actively supports charitable causes upgrades their culture in powerful ways.
Consider how this can change our lives on a daily basis. Rather than walking past that homeless person in the parking lot, the people that are active in LA Family Housing often stop and ask for their name, they connect and they are no longer afraid – to look”
As 2017 draws to a close, where will you look?
For those of you who would like to learn more about LA Family Housing (Click Here).
(C) Copyright, 2017, Inspired Work, Inc. – (All Rights Reserved)
To discuss your workplace or your career with David Harder, schedule fifteen-minutes, Here.