WHERE THERE’S A NEED
I found myself stopped at an intersection on a wintery day. Strong arctic
wind battered my car. I spotted a young woman who stood alongside the
street rubbing her bare hands together and dancing in place to keep warm.
Beside her rested a sign that read, “I have a baby and no food.” Her face
showed she had been crying, likely from the pain of the bitter wind.
Homeless and unemployed people are a common sight in many of our larger
cities, and most motorists drive by without offering assistance. They have
no doubt been taught that giving money fosters a dependent lifestyle, or
the ready cash may be used to purchase alcohol or drugs rather than the
food for which it was intended. Like me, they may have been taught that
money is best given to a local charity or through one’s faith community, as
these institutions often have excellent programs to help those in need.
And though this is true, I sometimes recall a humorous story about two
college students who encountered a homeless man on a sidewalk. One of the
students took a couple of dollars from his wallet and handed it to the
unfortunate stranger. His friend commented, “Why did you do that? He’s just
going to spend it on booze or drugs.” The young man answered, “Yeah…like,
On that icy day as I waited for the light to turn, I felt conflicted about
that young woman. I figured she was probably staying at one of the women?s
shelters in the area and wondered if her baby was there now, as there was
no child in sight. Should I give her money? She was obviously in need. And
whether or not she actually had a baby at all really didn’t matter. I gave
up guessing people’s motives and analyzing their stories long ago. It was
cold. She was cold. And she apparently felt she had to be there.
What should I do? How could I help? What was best?
As I wrestled with these questions, a window rolled down from the car in
front of me and a hand shot out holding a warm pair of gloves. The driver
had taken her own gloves off and gave them to the shivering woman. I saw
the young woman mouth the words “Thank you” as a broad smile lit up her
It occurred to me that, as I debated, somebody else helped. As I hesitated,
someone else acted. As I tried to decide the BEST way to assist, somebody
else just did what she could. In other words, as I did nothing, someone
else did SOMETHING.
I made myself a pledge that day to always try to do SOMETHING. And I?m not
just talking about giving money. I?m not even talking about the homeless,
necessarily. Where there?s a need, there?s an opportunity. So I promised
myself that, whenever or wherever I spotted a need, I would try to do
Educator Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a
touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the
smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life
around.” Even speaking, listening, and noticing — they may not seem like
much, but they are something. And the smallest act of kindness carries
great power within.
I don?t want to underestimate what I CAN do. Where there?s a need, there?s
an opportunity. My action may not turn a life around, but it can make some
kind of difference. And I?ll trust that the something I do, no matter how
small, will be better than the nothing I might have done.
— Steve Goodier
Find Steve Goodier here: http://stevegoodier.blogspot.com/.