The Oxford dictionary defines “help” as, a verb to which a person can, “Make it easier or possible for (someone) to do something by offering them one’s services or resources.”
I believe that help in itself, is much more multi-dimensional. Help comes in many forms and can range from small acts of kindness to the long-term betterment in the life of an individual which may entail financial assistance from the government or social programs. Financial aid can assist with schooling, housing and also basic necessities.
Growing up in a single-parent home, financial aid is one of the forms of help that has been quite prevalent in my life. Escaping from the communist regime that remained after the Vietnam War, my mom came to Canada with nothing but the clothes on her back. She worked over 48 hours a week at a job that was barely paying her minimum wage. Living paycheck to paycheck wasn’t easy but when I came into the picture she had to make one of the hardest decisions of her life: she had to choose between motherhood or livelihood. She decided on leaving me with a babysitter, so she could work and provide for me. The government helped us by providing subsidized housing and a monthly allowance that came in handy to pay for little necessities. After about 17 years of social assistance and help from my family members, my mom was able to get off of welfare and purchase our first home. Presently, I work part-time to help out with house bills but overall, we’re living much more financially stable lives now. My experience with financial aid has really shaped my personal definition of help. It’s taught me a lot about falling victim to stereotypes. Not everyone who struggles financially is lazy or even abuse substances, some may be new to the country or dealing with some other circumstances.
No one is in any place to judge another individual’s misfortune, all we should do is find out which ways we can help in bettering that personal situation. Experiencing the welfare system is what influenced my decision to become a social worker, so I have the means to which I could help provide others with the financial aid and emotional support that I once received.
Throughout high school, I’ve offered my own services by participating in initiatives like: “Sandwich Patrol” and Regeneration, where freshly cooked food is provided for the homeless. Regeneration center serves freshly cooked meals 365 days a year to ensure that people don’t have to worry about going through the day on an empty stomach. Regeneration is an organization that believes in helping struggling people each day, so they can build hope for tomorrow. This experience taught me that even though I can’t end homelessness in the world, there are smaller things I can do to contribute to the lives of the individuals affected by such tragedies. I built a deep connection with many of the people that I spoke to and really enjoyed my time being able to listen and sympathize with those who were affected. I realized that helping sometimes entails that you be self-less and put another person’s needs before your own, whether that is cooking a hot meal for someone in need or just lending open arms and ears to listen and care. The only thing I wish to change about my experience is that I wish I could’ve done more by getting friends and family involved and volunteering more often. Sometimes, I feel like I get caught up in my busy life too much and forget to stop and give up a little time to help my fellow friends in need.
Help can exist wherever you want it to, in your home by helping a roommate through a tough break-up, on the streets; helping an elderly person bring groceries to their car, or even within yourself. Although most preconceptions of help define it as being something external and separate from yourself, self-help is something that can be performed internally. Taking time to pamper yourself; both physically and psychologically. Self-help can be taking some time to relax after a long week or even exercising to keep your body healthy. Sometimes self-help is important before you are in the right mindset to be able to focus on helping others.
With recent technological advances, it’s becoming even easier to interact with others and discover ways to help. Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of effort to be able to make a difference whether that be donating to charities, volunteering or offering up some emotional support, the possibilities and extents at which one can help are endless. At the same time, the support systems in place for anyone in need of help are vast, especially for those of us who live in Canada.