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Monday, September 27, 2010

Happiness Project Month 4: Parenthood (or not!)

"Much is expected from those to whom much is given. Much more is expected from those to whom much more is given." ~ Luke 12:48


So month 4 of the Happiness Project focused on parenthood.....needless to say I had to improvise. So, because I previously replaced a non-applicable happiness goal with doing something for myself, I decided that this month I would focus on doing something for others....so my goal: volunteering.

I'd been trying for a while to find a volunteer organization that I was passionate about to get involved with. I feel really strongly about finding a way to give back and about making a difference in the world. So when I decided that doing something for others would be the topic of the Happiness Project this month, I started to do some research. I landed on two different ideas.

First, I signed up with the National Bone Marrow Donor Program's "Be The Match" Registry. If you're not familiar with the organization, they have been working for 20 years to help find life-saving bone marrow matches for people with life threatening diseases, such as leukemia. Finding a bone marrow donor is often a patient's last hope, but 70% of people who need this transplant do not have a match in their family.

That's where the Registry comes in. They keep a database of sorts of people who are willing to be bone marrow donors. If someone is looking for a donor, they can check all of the people on the registry. If someone finds a match, the donor is contacted and the donation occurs. Signing up is easy, you just fill out some short paperwork, mostly about your overall health. After that, they mail you a little kit that has you send in three cheek swabs. And that's all there is to it.

I signed up earlier this month. So far, no call that I match anyone. My mom swears that I don't know what I'm getting into....I pass out when they take my blood pressure....this involves a needle into the bone! But you know....the idea that I might be able to save someone's life would make the passing out and the needles and the sore hip more than worth it. I sincerely hope that I do get the call and that I can make a difference!

You might wonder why I decided this was something that was a fit for me. I don't have an elaborate answer. But I have seen a lot of death in my life, and I'm tired of sad. If I could help save someone's life, and help to prevent the sad for their family and friends, well that would be amazing.

Second, I signed up to volunteer as a Wish Granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I'm particulary excited about this because unlike the bone marrow registry, I don't have to wait around to make a difference....I have already gotten started!
The Make-A-Wish Foundation works to grant children with life threatening illnesses between the ages of 2 1/2 an 18 their fondest wish. A couple of important clarifications. These kids are not all terminally ill. In fact, many of them live to be adults, somewhere around 60%. They all have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses.....this can be anything from cancer to cerebral palsy and a whole host of other illnesses. And the wishes are not just for the kids, but instead they are for the whole family. So, for example, if a kid wishes to go to Disneyland, the Foundation sends the parents an any siblings who are under 18. All free of charge. The entire idea started with one kid who wanted to be a state trooper before he died.

So, as a Wish Granter, my job is to help get these wishes underway. The volunteers do the interview of the child and family and help them come up with their wish. Then we work to coordinate the wishes and to help with "enhancements" to make the wish even better....think decorations in a hotel room or fun gifts to open on the plane.

Talk about a great gig for me! I have always wanted to be rich....not so much because there are things I need or want for myself, but because I think I would love having the money to really help people. Being a Wish Granter for Make-A-Wish is sort of like having the money to help people make their dream come true....but instead of having to save up for years, I just get to spend someone else's money! And I'm a huge believer in having dreams (hello bucket list!) and making them come true. I've been fortunate to be healthy and have the gift of time to check items off my list....I love the idea of helping others do the same.

The worst part of my work with Make-A-Wish is that I will not be able to share specifics on the blog. I will be able to tell you that I helped grant a wish, but I can't give out any details about the kid or the wish. But....I will tell you that I signed up for my first kiddo last week and I am meeting with her this week to get this wish planning under way. If you want to get an idea of how this works, the national organization has some stories on their website. I'd encourage you to read about Andrew, Christian, Ethan, and many others.

I think it's pretty obvious from the blog that I give this month's project a big fat A+ as far as increasing my happiness. They say it is better to give than to receive--I agree wholeheartedly. As much fun as the golf lessons were during the month of "doing something for me," the idea of saving someone's life or giving a sick kid their biggest wish is so much better!

5 comments:

RobynBeazley said...

You are so amazing Tiffany and I admire your generosity!

Laura said...

That is fantastic, Tiffany! I've been slacking on my volunteering for the last year, and this was just the blog I needed to get going again. When I get back in November, I'll be refocusing on that area of my life. Thank you!

Tiffany said...

Thanks girls! Laura--can't wait to hear all about your trip!

crystal.cattle said...

So I missed this post while I was in Australia. This is awesome. You should be everyone's role model.

Tiffany said...

Aww, thanks so much, Crystal! You are too sweet!