Because We Can

Happy 2016 to one and all!  Many have started the year with one or more resolutions.   My resolution:  Not to make any!  But to those who have made them and can follow through for the year, kudos to you!

I’d also like to extend 1st Anniversary blessings to those of you who married between January 6th, 2015 to today.  How great it must feel to (finally) be legally joined in your very own home state and recognized as a loving couple – not to mention every bit of equality that comes with it!

My year started off with a dream.  Powerball.  Yes, Powerball.  Nobody has won it since November and as of this past weekend, it rolled to an estimated $1.3 BILLION dollars.   Yes, BILLION, and a cash value of $806 Million!  That’s no typo.

Oh, the things one could do with that kind of money!

Of course, many of us would do the customary things like pay off bills, take care of our family – genetic and chosen.  Maybe take a nice long vacation, new residence or new wheels for starters.

“Pay it forward” came to mind as well.    Most of us  know what the concept is.  In part, wiseGEEK further explains it by saying:

“One of the most important things that people should remember about this concept is that it should be done with a selfless spirit. This means that one person helps another without hoping for repayment or good deeds in return. In fact, there are some organizations that allow people to pay it forward anonymously, donating money or performing good deeds without hoping for recognition. As far as the receiver of the money, gift, or good deed is concerned, he or she is told only to do something good for someone else.”

But in all honesty, how may would really do such a thing?  I know I would, and I do, as do many I know.  If you recall this past November, I wrote “Giving Thanks by Giving Back” and highlighted friends Jay and John who turned their annual Thanksgiving brunch into a way to pay it forward and help others.  This year they raised $2,000 in food items and $600 in monetary donations for Poverello.   They (and their friends who attended) understand the concept!

There are so very many things that the (lottery) money or just acts of kindness can be used  for, both in and out of our community.

In the LGBTQI (and all those other letters associated with “our” community)  and beyond,  we have homeless teens and adults.  Those who are hungry.  Those who struggle paying for medications or everyday requirements to survive – rent, electric, food.  For many, the thought of a car is considered a luxury.  Many rely on public transportation, or even walk.

Many programs depend on donations and grant monies to keep their doors open and be able to do some of those things. There are organizations who depend on donations and sponsors.  Many of us participate or sponsor yearly in events such as the AIDS Walk, Smart Ride or Bowl-a-Thons, to name a few.  We have places such as Poverello & Church of the Holy Spirit Song who have food banks to make sure people eat.

United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale has a weekly (Thursday) lunch for  the homeless, where they serve a “home cooked” meal, clothes and toiletries.  Part of this is accomplished through donations of all kinds.   Thursday averages over 100 persons weekly; gay, straight, bi – you name it.  Just before the Christmas lunch happened, someone donated 125 stocking caps.  The congregation was challenged to take a cap and bring it back the Sunday before Christmas filled, knowing they would be distributed to the attendees at the lunch Christmas week.  Every stocking cap was returned, filled to the brim.  They were then distributed to each homeless person in attendance.  You would have thought they had won the Powerball lottery!  People in need are grateful to those  who care.

The awesome thing is, WE DON’T HAVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY to be able to pay it forward.   We do it because we can.  Either way, we win.

For 2016, I challenge each and every reader to Pay it Forward on a regular basis.  There is no better feeling to give without  an expectation of wanting something in return – except a wonderful feeling and knowing you helped make a difference!

I leave you with these words: “If we all do acts of kindness daily, maybe it would set the world in the right direction.”  Unknown


Rev. Joel S. Slotnick is an ordained Interfaith minister and full time digital court reporter for the state of Florida.