Though I’m quite the busy bee these days, I make time in my schedule to serve my community by way of what Empowered Wealth calls “Experience” and “Contribution” Assets, namely using my skills to help other people.
Right now I have just a bit more time than money so I’ve been mainly using my expertise to serve others. The benefits come back in spades because not only do I get the satisfaction of helping those around me in need, but I’m also contributing directly to the betterment of my community. That’s important to me.
The principal skills I have to offer my community are my cooking skills. I have an undergraduate degree in culinary arts and worked in restaurants in the early part of my career, so I’m well-versed in cooking, recipe development, and food preparation. Recently, I’ve put these skills to use in my local community in several meaningful ways. Each served a different group of people in a way that they needed it most. Combined, the experiences resulted in me feeling good about giving back, and each experience provided insight and perspective to me on how other people live their lives.
An on-going project for me over the last couple of years has been volunteering with my local food bank to help develop a recipe book for a core community outreach program. I’ve tested program recipes in my home and have also contributed recipes of my own. This has helped to sharpen my focus and recipe creating skills. What’s interesting here is that I don’t get to see my work in action since I don’t interact directly with the people this recipe book will serve. However, I’m grateful for the opportunity to bring value and variety to the lives of people who need it in their home cooking experiences.
I also recently volunteered with a small group at our local Ronald McDonald House to cook dinner one night for the families staying at the house. We bought the food ourselves and prepared it. It was a small two hour affair that had a huge impact on those we served. These families are away from home with sick children, and the nights they can get a free-of-charge home cooked meal make a huge difference in their lives. The level of service we provided to those families seemed small on our part (two hours + a few dollars + effort), but the impact was enormous. We brightened the day of a few families by showing up and helping.
Two other ways I helped my community were, again, fairly easy on the effort scale for me but made a difference to those I served. I recently judged a 4-H cook-off for elementary and high school aged kids. I used my taste and judgment skills to help the top performing kids advance to the state-level round of judging and competition. It’s great to see kids taking an interest in cooking and food preparation.
Finally, on New Year’s day, my husband and I cooked a feast of southern delights: cabbage, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and corn bread. We were blessed with abundance so I brought some over to my elderly neighbor who lives alone. Her smile lit up the room when she saw the food. We were humbled and heart-warmed as well.
These experiences and contributions have left me feeling a strong sense of Empowered Gratitude. I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve. I expect nothing in return for my efforts. I simply do it to be helpful and to improve the lives of those in my community — those in need who rely on people like me to give of their time, talents, and skills. By offering these assets and making myself available, I’m making a difference and improving the lives of others. Ultimately, that’s why I do it.