One small act can truly change the world.
Just ask Phoebe, a 6-year-old first grader, who inspired her community to enthusiastically support her aluminum can and letter writing fundraising campaign. After seeing homeless people in her San Francisco neighborhood when she was in preschool, she felt two things: sadness and a desire to help. She eventually inspired contributions to cover 135,000 meals for the needy, donated by the San Francisco Food Bank. First lady, Michelle Obama also wrote her a personal note to congratulate her.
Then there's Caitlin Boyle, whose operation is beautiful from the inside out. After having a bad self-esteem moment (who doesn't have those?), what's a girl to do? Do something kind for others. Not everyone would conclude, or put this positive thought into action. Caitlin scribbled, "You are beautiful" on a piece of paper and stuck it on the mirror of the public bathroom at her community college in Florida. She blogged about the experience. Worldwide response action ensued with readers posting their own notes. As fate would have it, those words of encouragement turned around days for weary folks. Some smiled and in some cases, some recipients of the random note decided not to commit suicide.
In New York, Jorge Munoz, a school bus driver has been cooking, packing and delivering food to the 140-plus hungry people that wait under a subway stop in Queens, New York every night at 9:30 p.m. For many years, he's used half of his weekly salary of $700 to buy food and supplies. Then, CNN, Go Inspire Go and other media outlets shared his story.
Hungry for more? The Yahoo! For Good do-gooders asked me to report and blog about 10 Inspiring Acts of 2010, where we featured 10 folks, including the three above, who did one small act of kindness that rippled out to big changes!
This was an epiphany for me because of my sordid childhood.
Growing up in the ghetto as an immigrant from Vietnam, all 10 of my family members crammed into a small trailer. People said "Wow, that sucks." However, if you ask any of my family members, they'll tell you quite the contrary. My mom says, "We were so happy, we were safe, all together and we clung onto hope and opportunity."
Books were my passport out of the ghetto. I voraciously read every single thing I could find. I remember even reading the shampoo bottle in the bathroom out loud every day as a kid. Many of the words I've learned became my everyday vernacular. I tried very carefully not to slip up and use words like "enamored" around the neighborhood bullies. I was unsuccessful. The neighborhood kids would often say, "$##*!" why you tryin' to be white?" (I never could understand why being able to conjugate my verbs and speaking in complete sentences meant that I was acting white.)
I gave them my power.
They stole my voice and I became quiet -- until college -- that's when I realized that through my voice, was my gift, my power.
In red ink, my expository writing teacher, Carolyn Weber wrote on one of my papers: "You are a gifted and talented writer. I hope you do something with it in your life." This woke me up. It created a shift. Against my parent's behest -- to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer -- I went on to do TV news, but was still unfulfilled after 10 years in the biz.
The biggest gift given to me in my adult life was being laid off from my big market TV reporting gig. During a run shortly after being axed, I "woke up" and decided to make a drastic move. As soon as I realized the intent and meaning in my life, clarity followed. I promised myself that I would eat out less, shop less and take a year off of work to use my gift for storytelling to give back. I did not have a huge savings. I was worried about how I would make ends meet after a few months. I was not rich, am not rich and have turned down many lucrative jobs to continue my mission.
The small YouTube channel became Go Inspire Go aka GIG. Since launching GIG year and a half ago, so many miracles -- large and small -- have transpired. I've met so many amazing people who did one small thing that created big changes. I've also crossed paths with those who helped complete the circle of giving, those who were inspired to reach out and help the inspiring people we've featured.
My new GIG allows me to be the voice for the voiceless. With every story, every blog, I try to inspire my viewers/readers to do what I did "Discover and use their power (talents, gift, network, etc.) to help others."
This holiday season, give the best gift of all -- yourself. I hope you're inspired by my Yahoo! 2010 Inspiring Acts blog.
Be inspired. Take action. For more inspirational stories go to Go Inspire Go.
What can YOU do?
Follow Toan Lam on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GoInspireGo