"Kindness in giving creates love."
A couple of nights ago, I found myself in front of the television watching the show, "Secret Millionaire." I had never watched an episode before, and soon became completely engrossed.
The premise of the show is millionaires go incognito into poverty-stricken communities to live on welfare wages for one week, while volunteering at local charitable organizations. At the week's end, the wealthy benefactors reveal their true identities, then proceed to donate a minimum of $100,000 to the charities they've worked with. They leave their lush and lavish lifestyles to mingle among the citizens of some of America's most beat-down and deprived neighborhoods. They open their hearts and their checkbooks and give generously to those who have experienced a broad spectrum of heartache and despair.
Ali Brown, ABC's featured millionaire, is a successful business owner and entrepreneur. A stunning blond with a warm smile, she made her millions by the age of 35. I watched, riveted, as she walked through hordes of homeless people camped out on the beach, in Venice Beach, California.
I was particularly touched by her $50,000 donation to Harvest Home; a non-profit organization that provides homeless pregnant women with food, clothing, and shelter. They help homeless woman regain their emotional and financial independence, as well as provide spiritual guidance in a Christ-centered environment. A large, family home in Venice, can give shelter to nine women and their infants at a time. It is a remarkable organization, and a safe haven and a blessing to expectant mothers who would otherwise have no where to go, and no one to turn to.
I watched as Ali--with tears streaming down her face--presented her check to director, Jennifer Jenson. Jennifer, overcome with gratitude, began to cry. When those sweet, young, new mothers--some cradling precious infants in their arms--were told of Ali's donation, they became emotional as well. It was incredible watching those women uninhibitedly radiate true appreciation for the kindness that had been bestowed on them.
I sat on my couch and bawled.
For the remainder of the evening, I thought about that episode. I went to bed thinking about that episode. As I laid there with my head nestled on my pillow and my comforter tucked under my chin, I contemplated the affect the show had on me. I realized it wasn't about the money; though the donation was extremely generous. It wasn't about the various charities; though they are wonderful in their cause for good. For me, it was simple. It was about kindness. Acts of kindness given to complete strangers...AND more specifically, to women. It was about women uplifting other women.
As women, we have an extraordinary and divine ability to reach out, nurture, love, support, and encourage those around us. Women have beautiful hearts, capable of boundless love and goodness. It is easy--almost effortless--for us to extend a hand, a compliment, or a smile to loved ones and dear friends. But what about the people we don't know? Are we kind to the women who are strangers to us?
Upon deeper "pillow time" reflection, I realized I have been the blessed recipient of many acts of kindness; sincere love and amiability shown to me by women I'm not acquainted with. The young mother who approached me at the California Pizza Kitchen, while I was at dinner with friends. She told me she liked my hair. The woman in JoAnn, who offered to get me a shopping cart while we were waiting in a long line to the registers. She saw that my hands were full with a big purse, two little kids, and an abundance of "crafty stuff." She wanted to help me, to relieve some of my burden. The older woman--with the big, curly hair and the fake eyelashes--who always works the morning shift at Wal-Mart. She mans her checkout stand with an infectious laugh and a smile. She calls me, "Hon," and speaks sweetly to my children. She has no idea how that makes my day, nor does she know that Ms. Lilly searches for her when we're ready to pay for our groceries: "Let's get in her line, Mom. She's nice AND she's cute."
And these are only a few recent examples.
I might not have money to donate, I might not have volunteer hours to give. I might not be the director of a non-profit organization. I might not be a millionaire. But...I am a woman with capacity for kindness. I can uplift the women around me by the smallest and simplest of acts. A smile. A nice word. A helping hand. A listening ear. A compliment. With those small and simple acts, we begin to more fully support and take care of each other.
You can't put a price on that.