“Giving where we are needed” and KIRF work

I’ve been meaning to post this quotation by John Records, a homeless activist, that describes why I enjoy doing “KIRF work“. I read it in the Sun Magazine last month in the Letters section. Here it is:

“We may have more time than we think we do. We might find a greater happiness from giving where we are needed than from being entertained.” ~John Records, founder of homeless rehabilitation center Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), from the September 2008 issue of the Sun Magazine’s “Leave the Light On” article.

I like that.

By “KIRF work” I mean doing a service project to help others or help the planet either here locally in Ventura (with an Earth Day beach cleanup, for example) or in a distant community such as in Washington, DC recently or in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

For example, in Chiang Mai we bought an ice cream maker and new freezer for a sustainable business school-based venture set-up by the Support the Children Foundation in December 2006. Our purchases made it possible for them to generate income to fund their healthy lunch program for disadvantaged children and HIV foster children. The local non-profit Support the Children Foundation is ensuring that this program continues. The Chiang Mai project took a lot of effort to coordinate. I spent days preparing handouts, posters and two cookie sales with the Ventura College Anthropology Club to fund it. How did I find the Support The Children Foundation? I emailed friends and family until I found them through my sister-in-law. She recommended that I speak with her former college roommate who is a public health doctor stationed in Singapore because she works with the Thai founders of Support The Children. They are a husband and wife team of physicians who attended medical school in the U.S. Finding them and setting up the KIRF project, fundraising for it, and working in Chiang Mai on this project with our children was big effort. However, we were going to be in Chiang Mai anyway to visit family so the travel was already taken care of. However, all that coordination took time.

But it was time well spent. The genuine gratitude and happiness of the school principal when he found out about the ice cream making equipment we bought for his school made it worth it. Also, meeting the kids at school, the farmer who donated milk for the ice cream at his farm, a local foster care family who was taking care of their HIV+ grandson, and the long day we spent shopping in Chiang Mai accompanying our Thai local experts from the Support the Children Foundation shop was an enriching and heartwarming experience that we will never forget. We still keep in touch with the Support the Children founders. I consider them dear and inspiring friends. The memory of that KIRF work project still makes me happy when I think about it. I am grateful to have had that experience because we made a difference.

That is “KIRF work“.

🙂 A