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Giving is easy 

Anyone can be a volunteer, any time

I got off a Greyhound in L.A. almost seven years ago with $6 in my pocket, a promised job in a hostel from a phone interview, and hope that I could create the world I wanted. I knew that I would be okay, because I knew that I could give, and because I can give, I will always have what I need. I was right.

When I left L.A. after two weeks, and was led to San Luis Obispo, I knew I was where I needed to be. I knew when I walked off the train and felt the energy of this place that I belonged here, and every day I find more and more reasons why I make a difference here through the details in my day. I can give and I can receive everywhere I go. There have been many times in my life when I offered myself to give by asking to work for an organization or company and have been rejected. I would think to myself that I was not good enough for others to work for their company because of my education level, appearance, or just any other part of who I was. I would feel down for a while, and then I would attempt to get another job to help people--and again I might get rejected for whatever reason. Finally, I realized that all I really need to give is to give and the rest takes care of itself. I will be taken care of, and I will end up where I need to be to provide for my family. I was right.

You do not need money to give money. You do not need a big degree to teach. You do not need a lot of jokes to make someone laugh. You do not need a lot of clothes to give clothes away. A little food can go a long way. There is so much in this world, and when you realize this, you will always be able to give and always able to receive. Once you realize your time, money, energy, and personality are very important in the community you live in, you will see how valuable it is to the community that you give. When everyone is giving, everyone is receiving.

You might be surprised how much you can give and receive. You can tell a funny experience at the store and receive friendship. You can take one of your many jackets out of your car when you are in a parking lot and give it to a homeless person. You can talk with an elderly woman at the post office and see how she is afraid to use the weighing machine and then help her do it. You can offer your big yard to the kids across the street to play soccer in. You can give the teenager next door a job by raking your leaves or painting your house or programming your phone! You can just say hello to someone you don't know. You can talk to someone at the doctor's office and share a health experience with them so that they do not feel alone. You can give your saved-up change to any of the charity organizations in town once a month. You can give part of your office space to a mom once a week who wants to start a moms' group and has nowhere to meet. You can just talk to the elderly who are so left out in our society and let them know how valuable they are.

There are so many things you can do and still take care of your day-to-day responsibilities. Here are just some more of what I have done, and maybe you can think of some yourself: Many times, I have given the clothes off my back to people in the public. I had a lady compliment my little backpack purse and I gave it to her. I saw a homeless man walking and I gave him my coat. I saw a woman collecting recyclables and asked her if she needed anything, and I went to my closet and packed a bag full of clothes and gave it to her. I have talked to lots of women about my miscarriages and found out how they wanted more support at the time. I have written numerous thank you letters to people who have done things for my family. I have given whatever I have in my house that I think I could do without to someone in need who I know or don't know. I have given money to homeless people and taken their name and given it to people who might be able to put them to work. I am an information sponge, and I have shared that with everyone. I have been given to and been paid somehow when I needed it.

I have not only given, I have received. There can be no giving without receiving. No matter what you think you have, always know there is always more, and you are a part of that more. Thank you, San Luis Obispo. I love you!

Send comments to Gina Carmen Turley via the editor at rmiller@newtimesslo.com.

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