This moving post is by our friend Jennifer Barbour. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give is to tell your story.
Philanthropy Friday: The Gift of Telling a Story (for World Give Day)
GiveForward is hosting a blog series in honor of World Give Day, which happens annually on May 4th.
The prompt is: “Small gift, big impact: tell us about a time when you saw a small act of giving create lots of unexpected joy.”
I’ve worked within the nonprofit sector, specifically in the mental health and substance abuse treatment field, since 2004. Though not a therapist, I have worked with women in treatment who have stories to tell. Being on the public communications side, it’s always a difficult journey to travel to tell these stories. Not everyone is ready to tell them, and not everyone is ready to hear them.
I’ve heard stories from women who have been through hell and back more than once in their lives. They’ve endured the kind of physical and mental abuse and pain that no human being should have to experience. The kind of stuff that you just can’t imagine. As a result of the decisions they made to deal with that pain, they’ve lost their children to the state, ruined their careers, gone to jail, and damaged every meaningful relationship.
Yet, somehow, they’ve made it to the other side.
What is always awe-inspiring to me is the strength that it takes to even get to the point of thinking about telling these stories.
Walking through the door of a treatment facility is one of the most courageous things a person might do in their entire life. Yet, so many people never get through that door.
Stigma and shame are a horrible, yet very real part of dealing with a mental health or addiction problem. The stories that these women have shared with me were shared because they wanted those that hadn’t walked through the door yet to find the courage. They wanted to be an inspiration. Whether it was sharing their story for a blog post or a news story, they knew that they could save a person’s life by showing that it is possible to get to the other side. Someone, somewhere, did it for them.
The small gift of encouragement that empowers a person to make a turn in the right direction. A story to give them hope for a future.
That’s one powerful gift.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime