“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’
To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers
I heard this quote by Fred Rogers a few years ago, and as we await the arrival of Hurricane Irma, I am wondering, what will your children see?
As a 17-year-old, in Miami after Hurricane Andrew, I remember a lot of specific details.
Yes, there were houses with spray paint that said “Looters will be Shot.” There was devastation, and loss.
But the immediate memories that I recall had to do with the Helpers.
My most vivid memory is the one of my dad, arriving from 4 hours away — a drive that took him almost 7 hours to make — with brand new chain saws that were unavailable in Miami for weeks after the storm had passed.
Our street was completely blocked — and not a priority for disaster relief. If we’d waited for them to come, it would have been weeks before our neighbors could have returned home.
My dad brought the chain saws, and I remember vividly the joy I felt when he taught me how to use one, so I could help. Maybe I wasn’t responsible for clearing much of the trees blocking the street, but I was there, doing something — helping. And that gave me a feeling I hadn’t known before — purpose.
Yes, helping gives us purpose — meaning. In spite of whatever stress is surrounding us, in helping, there’s an incredible gift to gain.
That’s why, when there is any kind of disaster, you will always find people volunteering to help.
Just look around. And, when you see someone else stepping forward to help, join them — you can always find a way to help.
Even if it’s just to offer someone a reassuring smile, or to give them one of the last loaves of bread on the shelf, or to bring your chain saw to help them clear their driveway.
Getting outside of your own frustration and helping someone else solve their problems, will lead you to something really profound — the only thing more meaningful than you helping your neighbors, is teaching your children the power in the actions of helping their neighbors.
As we recover from the aftermath, whatever that might be, I believe the greatest stories will come from helping. 24 years from now, what will your children remember about their experience after Hurricane Irma? The frustration of no electricity, no Internet, no hot water?
Or the feeling they might get from helping?