The Power of Giving: St. Mary’s Style

The power of giving is a universal expression of selflessness that transcends beyond the factors of age, religion, or socioeconomic status. The act of giving is symbolic of one reducing themselves in order to replenish another. This past Saturday I had the opportunity to volunteer at the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church’s first annual “Poor Man’s Soup” event. This is an event that was used as a fundraiser in order to raise revenue for the church’s rectory renovation campaign. The event included fine art, a night of impressive community talent, and a formal soup dinner community-style. I volunteered to assist with the production of the event, and from there my view into the window of the awesomeness of neighborly love, joy, and giving began. The individuals who attended the event were all members of the church, and I could feel their attachment and care for their sanctuary with each conversation that I had. Many of the attendees had been coming to St. Mary’s for decades and their investment of time had caused them to create a great bond of closeness with one another. As a volunteer I was responsible for an assortment of tasks: ranging from set-up, assisting the cook with the main dinner course of the night, greeting guests, and collecting donations. Through my role in each task I had the wonderful opportunity to meet delightful personalities, one of them being a lady by the name of Lauren. Lauren has experienced tremendous struggles in her life and is now living as a low-income resident of a New York City housing complex. As she shared her life story with me, I couldn’t help but notice how she continued to have a permanent smile on her face along with contagious genuine laughter. I admired how she did not allow her circumstances to define her, and regardless of the state of her life she still managed to have happiness through her adversity. This short encounter exemplifies that overall presence of the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. The little church in West Harlem Manhattanville, that still continues to strive to help others shamelessly and without fear. My time as a volunteer for the “Poor Man’s Soup” event is merely a fragment of the insightful and inspiring times that I have experienced at St. Mary’s. My time as an intern, food pantry worker, volunteer, and resident of this family-oriented place have all contributed to my perspective of what I believe a community should be. The individuals who work and live her range from all areas of the spectrum: including socioeconomic status, race, educational background, and sexual orientation. However, the one commonality that they all share is the love that they have for one another. I have seen this community come together in the midst of celebration, heartache, and the act of helping a fellow peer who is in need. St. Mary’s is a safe-haven for all who enters into its territory and I am honored to share my year in New York City with this congregation.

Sincerely,

A. Nicholson

Open Horizons

 

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“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” Oprah Winfrey. When I initially saw this quote it sparked an emotional chord within me,  and I saw it as one ultimate truth. The concept is so simple, be grateful for the things in life that you have been blessed with. When you focus on abundance that is what you shall reap, likewise if you concentrate on your lack then lack is what you shall be surrounded with. Recently I have been reading a great amount of literature based around the concept of positive psychology.  Heck, I’ve also been reviewing sermons, motivational speeches, and various websites based around the platform. I have come to one conclusion from all of my introspective researching; it is truly up to you to create our own reality. If you want more of something, make the clear decision within your mind that you already have that of which you are trying to gain. It is up to you, and only you to create the opportunities that you wish to have in life. The days of waiting for someone else to fulfill those missing gaps are gone.  It is up to you to get up and decide to do something about your situation. I believe the act of making the irreversible decision to be grateful makes the possibility of achieving goals and obtaining accomplishments even that more real to the soul. When you eliminate the space for negativity and indifference in your life, the only factor that remains is positivity.  Furthermore, living a life of optimism does not mean that you close your eyes to the reality that is around you.  It goes beyond that, living a life of optimism means that you acknowledge the stepping stones and building blocks in your life while holding on to your strength, courage, faith, and confidence in God to get you through it. In order to get to the next stage in any journey you have to keep moving forward. In order to accomplish your current goal you have to keep striving. In order to build upon your knowledge of the world around you, you have to continue to accumulate knowledge through outside resources. Once you stop pursuing a dream, the dream is no longer obtainable because you are the only one who possesses the final word in how far your dreams and life will go. Here is a very logical question: What if we possessed a belief in ourselves and our abilities that was so strong that regardless of our amount of resources, background, or connections we could persuade others into believing in us as well? what if we acted in a manner that was so bold, self-assured, and confident that it left others with no other choice but to follow suit? This is absolutely possible! The only difference between the winners and losers in life is will-power and complete belief in self- NO MATTER WHAT. If you don’t believe me check out the autobiographies of  heavy-hitters such as Daymond John, Oprah Winfrey, Kimora Lee Simmons, and Will Smith. As long as we have God on our side and the tenacity and confidence to persevere, the world is basically an open playground for the acquisition of dreams.

Sincerely,

A. Nicholson