Some think that generosity is only for the wealthy, for me generosity is more than financial support alone, it is about treating people with care and respect and letting them know they are valued members of our community.
When I first arrived in Australia, with a toddler on my hip, very little money to my name and even less spoken English under my belt, a stranger on a bus showed, what was for me, life changing generosity.
Frustrated and upset that my limited English was preventing me communicating my plight to immigration officials in Perth, a kind woman on the bus trip home offered me a friendly smile, a kind word and a helping hand.
Little was I to know that this small exchange and her business networks would help smooth my immigration woes and gain our small family refugee status. Without her I wouldn’t be where I am today, quite literally.
But I had never been on the receiving end of generosity. After those challenging early years where I learnt the true meaning of generosity and with my parents’ lessons forming the backbone of my own values system, I have been forever keen to repay and play forward acts of kindness.
Another daughter later and a successful career both in Australia and New Zealand, I continued employing my style of generosity where I saw need.
Then one of my daughters said she’d found my dream assignment – leading a philanthropic community foundation, Te Karaka Foundation. Not only would I get to connect other generous people with ways to give to people in need, I would be able to achieve generosity on a large scale.
My consulting business has been shifted to the backburner and I am focused on making a lasting difference to the community I love and call home. It is my dream that the work of generous people will mean no one in Taranaki will live in hardship, loneliness and isolation.
It is easy to give money and things – let’s also be friendly and kind to each other and care about people’s needs and feelings.
It is often easier to add food to a collection box and tick that off as a job on your list, but will that make a true, long lasting difference to both you and the recipient? Would someone in need appreciate an invitation for a cup of coffee more? And how would doing that make you feel?
If every one of us, tucked one other person in need under our wing, there would be no one in need.
I believe we all have it in us, but we sometimes just haven’t practised using kindness and generosity lately. My vision is for all 100,000 of us to feel the buzz of kindness – both giving and receiving.
Leading New Zealand philanthropist Sir Stephen Tindall says his biggest thrill is giving – not launching rockets, investing in breakthrough new businesses or the myriad of other, seemingly exciting ventures that make up his work week.
Truly generous people claim over and over again to get as much pleasure out of giving as they do receiving and achieving other goals, and it can be the same for all of us – there is much to gain from being kind and generous.
I challenge you to think bigger than presents this Christmas, the thrill of giving and receiving is fleeting, true generosity brings longer lasting and more meaningful satisfaction and happiness.
Making someone feel special at Christmas is the aim, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, it only takes a kind word or gesture of support. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is the kind thing to do, and will repay you time and time again.