We won't deny that times are tough -- but at the same time, our current economic hardships are helping people to become more compassionate to those around them than ever before. Here are five inspiring stories that have come out of the recession.
Even though the tide is starting to turn on the recession, plenty of people still have it rough. Friends and neighbors have lost their jobs, and are worried about how to provide for their families. Some are no longer able to afford their expensive mortgages, and are being forced to foreclose on their homes. Businesses large and small are shutting down, and for many of us, even a night out at the movies seems like an unaffordable luxury.
We won’t deny that times are tough—but at the same time, our current economic hardships are helping people to become more compassionate to those around them than ever before. Here are five inspiring stories that have come out of the recession.
After Portland, Oregon man Seth Reams lost his job in December 2008, he spent all his time searching want ads and sending out resumés with no luck. But rather than getting down about his situation, he decided to start doing something useful with all his extra time until he could find a new job. He and his girlfriend, Michelle King, decided to create a blog, We’ve Got Time to Help, which would compile community volunteer opportunities for everyone who had a few extra hours to pitch in.
There are so many people out there who are willing to help, willing to step out of their lives and their homes to help their neighbors, their community and their city.
Since launching the website in January 2009, Reams’ group has grown to more than 100 volunteers, including fellow laid-off employees, retirees, and stay-at-home parents, who have together tackled more than 60 local volunteer projects for Portland residents in need. Reams’ volunteer project has taught him that “there are so many people out there who are willing to help, willing to step out of their lives and their homes to help their neighbors, their community and their city,” he told Seattle’s KOMO News. “I think that’s probably the most positive lesson that I’ve learned.”
More people than ever are seeking help to feed their families from area food banks—but those who are able to provide support are opening their wallets and pantry doors at a higher rate than ever before. According to USA Today, national food bank network Feeding America has seen an increase of 20% in food donations, and 46% in cash donations from 2007 to 2008.
“When people see friends and family struggle, it hits home,” Jim Pugh of Utah Food Bank Services told USA Today. “We’ve seen volunteerism skyrocket.”
Estonia, a small country in Eastern Europe, has been hit hard by the global recession. But while Estonia’s national bank is dealing with a catastrophic fall-out, Estonia’s Bank of Happiness is happily accepting new members.
The Bank of Happiness has no physical presence, but is merely an Internet portal where Estonians can register their contact details, along with details on what personal and professional skills they can use to help community members, as well as requests for what they’d like help with from others.
“I think young people would love to do this. Not everything has to be based on money,” 18-year-old student Evelin Tamm told the Times Online. “I love to clean and to babysit. Perhaps, in return, someone could help me with my maths and physics.”
One of the Bank’s founders, Rainer Nolvak, believes that the idea has the potential to transform the small country. “It is based on the assumption that doing good is good for you,” he said. “It will touch everyone with a conscience.”
Recently, the Bank of Happiness helped to organize a nation-wide volunteer work day on May 1st, where people around the country gathered together to take part in various projects to help others. Right now, volunteers are also working to build a free “Swing of Happiness,” under the philosophy that “swinging in the moonlight you forget the problems that the recession has caused, the world seems a friendlier place and you feel happier.” Check out the Bank of Happiness’ website here.
In January 2008, after reading about how many people had just lost their jobs, human resources consultant Mark Stelzner had a vision: he would create a movement to help laid-off workers find new jobs by using the power of crowds. Using Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, he and thousands of other “job angels” around the country began volunteering to help by editing and proofreading resumés, announcing potential job leads, and introducing jobless people to great connections in their respective fields.
“Our mission is to help bring people together in a community setting where each person commits to a single goal: to help just one person find gainful employment. That person can be a friend, a family member, a colleague or a complete stranger,” Stelzner explains on the group’s website.
JobAngels has amassed over 14,000 followers on Twitter, and is posting several hundred job leads every day, helping many people find new work. To learn more about the volunteer service and how you can pitch in or receive help, visit JobAngels.org.
When money is tight, our priorities change. Rather than spending an evening out at a decadent restaurant, you might start cooking more of your own meals. Instead of spending an afternoon at the mall, you might take your dog for a game of Fetch in the park. And when you need to cut costs, you may be likely to start by cutting back on the alcohol or finally quitting smoking.
While all these lifestyle changes may seem small, they can have a huge positive impact on your health if you keep them up over time: According to several studies noted in The New York Times, a one-percent increase in unemployment traditionally lowers a country’s death rate by half a percent. While times are tough, we’re forced to take a closer look at the lives we’re living—and, in many cases, we’re inspired to change them for the better.
Earlier version published May 17th, 2009, new updates addedcomments powered by Disqus