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Sailing into the new year

SCV Voices

Posted: December 12, 2008 9:08 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2008 4:55 a.m.
 

Children are amazing in their capacity to awaken the spirit of goodness and generosity in one's soul.

I consider myself privileged. Beyond the traditional goodies manifested in the bonds of family, I have the opportunity to work with young children and their parents as they navigate their way through the day, the week, and the year.

Every day spent with a child creates endless opportunities for modeling our higher selves, reinforcing what is admirable about humanity, and providing gentle guidance in the everyday struggles that are implicit in growing up.

One of my favorite student memories came to mind the other day when I was bundling gift baskets for LETMESAIL's New Year's Eve Ball.

LETMESAIL is a local philanthropic organization that supports the lives of the "differently-abled" and their families. Anyone who has given of his or her time and resources to any nonprofit organization knows that lean economic times mean more demand, making it that much harder for supportive organizations to carry out their missions.

That being said, I was pleased with the number of items and services that had been donated to our gift basket endeavor and remembered the lesson of the "pot."

Social interactions among children often result in tug-of-wars over toys. On this particular day, two 4-year-old boys in my class were having some difficulty dividing a bag of glass "fairy tears" between them. These jeweled glass stones are wondrous to children and become all manner of treasure in their imaginative play.
I generally encourage children to safely work out their difficulties, but the level of discord had risen to a point that adult intervention was needed. I simply sat down and began counting, "one for Mitch, one for Ben, and one for the ‘pot.'"

They immediately trusted the process, but after a few donations to the pot, Mitch gently asked, "Who's the ‘pot?'"

It was so dear to have such an innocent question. It's a good rule of thumb for an adult to give a child an opportunity to answer his own question; but on this occasion, I simply explained that the "pot" would be a source of extra stones if ever someone needed them.

If another child came to play some day, there would be stones for him. A tiny seed of giving to others was planted, and the children accepted it without question.

Even in precarious economic times, people have generally been willing to donate to the "pot." That being said, it is getting more difficult for all of us who work with charitable organizations to ask for yet another contribution, no matter how worthy.

I generally go to small businesses that I patronize. Other members of LETMESAIL handle the corporate contacts. That being said, I know how it feels to be on the other side of the asking.

Every day I am contacted via phone, mail or e-mail for donations to organizations that work with the poor, the sick, the children and elderly, the environment, wildlife, the arts, and countless worthy efforts overseas.
As our economic barometer drops, the downward spiral for the most vulnerable among us plunges with no safety net to protect them.

I receive Dr. Mardy's quotes of the week, and the latest edition echoed the economic reality many people are facing. One that struck me came from Leonard Roy Frank, a compiler of favorite quotation anthologies.

"A handout to the rich is called a bailout. A bailout for everyone else is called a handout."

I'm not sure if the term "bailout" sounds less pitiful than "handout," but let's be honest; we rarely associate the ramifications of poverty with the pre-eminent lending and industrial corporations in America.

The fact that these institutions are being infused with taxpayer money and are still debating executive bonuses, while many vulnerable people and worthy organizations are going to have a tough time making ends meet, is a topic in itself.

So I will share another admirable quote from none other than Ralph Waldo Emerson, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

Each of us has the capacity to make a positive difference in the life of another - no matter how small it may appear. In this case, the trickle-down effect does work!

For this reason, several families from the Santa Clarita community spearheaded LETMESAIL - Lifetime Enrichment, Though Meaningful Exercise, Social Activity, and Independent Living.

The services offered to "differently abled" clients range from chaperoned weekly outings and enrichment opportunities, camping trips, social dances and game nights to respite care and resource support for their families.

The "therapeutic, social, recreational and educational opportunities for differently abled individuals with disabilities (and their family members) enables them to maximize their potential to lead a more independent, healthy and enriched quality of life."

LETMESAIL has been able to open the door to more than 225 clients because of the countless people who donate their time, creative talent and money.

Anyone who has supported Special Olympics or Carousel Ranch understands these organizations do wonders for the health and self-esteem of the participants as well as their families.
Thankfully, children with disabilities are supported with numerous services that are offered through the schools and social services.

However, once a client reaches adulthood, the social and educational resources are dramatically limited.
LETMESAIL is hosting its second New Year's Eve Ball at the Hyatt Valencia and the proceeds help to offset the cost of its services.

Participants last year enjoyed the event so much it was unanimously decided to host our event again. With a live band and casino, scrumptious meal and professional photograph included in the price of the ticket, it's a perfect way to greet the New Year.

Fabulous raffle and casino prizes plus a select number of "priceless" silent auction items will be appeal to children and adults alike.

Our goal is to show our appreciation for the community's support as well as assure that everyone has a joyful night on the town!

Unfortunately, the economic situation is worrisome and many feel they can't spend an evening out, no matter how worthy the cause.

Perhaps sailing into the New Year with family and friends seems extravagant, but if you consider how you would be supporting the "pot" of services offered, we would be greatly appreciative.

For information regarding tickets for the entire evening or our After Dinner Party packages, please visit www.letmesail.org/NewYearsEveBall.asp or call (661) 702-8555.

Leigh Hart is a Santa Clarita resident. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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