Give– Joy to the World

150 150 Tessa Venizelos

I believe that empowerment is powerful. It has the capacity to rectify offense, transform tragedies, assure hope, and sustain joy. It has the ability to connect people from nations, countries, and continents apart. It is capable of weaning differences of race, ethnicity, gender, culture, and religion. Empowerment reminds us of our shared humanity and, in doing so, encourages us to see the needs others as equally, if not more, important than our own. It radically changes the way we love, the way we share, the way we sacrifice, the way we rebuild, the way we dream, the way we inspire, and the way we live.

It is officially December 1st, and the Christmas and holiday season is fresh upon us. For some of us, this is crunch time, but also the best time of the year: we begin to fill our schedules, plan parties, see to our shopping lists, wrap presents, decorate homes, reminisce and relive old traditions, and cherish time with our loved ones. But, through the business of the season, my hope is that we will be reminded of our impact and of the light that we each carry. As we prepare to shower our loved ones with gifts that show our appreciation and love for them, I want to provide opportunities for you to see your gift go further. Over the course of this month, I am going to feature the work of various organizations that are making an impact in communities throughout the world. I not only want you to be familiar with how these organizations are making a tangible impact in these communities, but I want you to become aware of how your talents, skills, dreams, passions, and everything that makes you unique can contribute to the work of these organizations.

As I started preparing for this series, my hope was that I would be able to offer our readers with the means to buy gifts that would go further, that would make a real impact in the world. But, that hope surpassed anything I could have imagined it to become. As I was interviewing CEOs and co-founders of these organizations, I came to realize that our empowerment stretches far beyond even buying gifts that give back. Our empowerment and our talents, our passions and our dreams, have the capacity to add to the work of these organizations in a way that they might not have seen before. Our empowerment has the immense capacity to strengthen the transformation that these organizations are carrying out in communities around the world. Our empowerment has created a unique force within each one of us that adds a valuable and lasting presence to the work of these organizations so that they are able to surpass the dreams and goals that they have set for themselves.

In my preparation, I also noticed a parallel between all the meaning we associate with this Christmas or holiday season and the meaning in the work of these organizations. Love, joy, and peace are sentiments that we associate with the goodness of the holiday season. We see lights strung in trees, we feel magic in the air, we hear laughter ringing throughout our dinner conversations, and we are filled with the richness of love, joy, and peace. Then, with the joy that is so present in our hearts, we find ourselves more compassionate and more generous in the way that we treat those around us. This mantra of love, joy, and peace that we see written on cards, engrained in decorations, or even exchanged in greetings becomes prevalent in our actions. “‘Tis the season!” we declare as we throw spare change in charity buckets, or offer spare dollars to someone in need, or simply lend a helping hand. But, the meaning of love, joy, and peace goes far beyond the timely constraints of the holiday season. The embodiment of love, joy, peace, compassion, kindness, generosity, and hope, then, are reflected in the way that we treat one another. The joy we see in Christmas cheer is found again when we support an organization that replants trees throughout the world. The hope that we experience during the holidays is found again when we involve ourselves with an organization that empowers people to rise above poverty. The peace that we see so eminent in this Christmas season is found again when we support the work of an organization that restores dignity to survivors of human trafficking. The compassion that we practice throughout our generosity during this season is found again when we contribute to the work of an organization that provides clean drinking water to the roughly 660 million people in the world who are lacking it.

My hope for this series is that the power and influence that we see so eminent in these organizations would inspire and empower us to use our capabilities, our strength, our talents, our dreams, our hopes, and our ambitions to contribute to the transformation that is enacting positive change and restoring love, joy, and peace throughout the world. I hope that through seeing the work of these organizations, Sevenly, Tentree, Krochet Kids International, 31 Bits, iSanctuary, Generosity Water, and the Little Market, that we would be inspired to first recognize the unique value that we are each able to offer to the world and that we would use that uniqueness to inspire a movement of empowerment wherever we are.

‘Tis the season … to change the world.

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