Archive for October 17th, 2015


magic of helping


Over the last several weeks, I have been rebuking myself for not doing more for kids within the system. While I have been publishing blog posts every day, I just haven’t had the energy to accomplish much else. I have felt like a clock winding down, moving ever and ever more slowly.

A few days ago—maybe it is the change in weather, maybe my conscience finally got to me—something finally shifted. I wrote a letter initiating a search for a pro bono attorney for a case that has been stalled for months for lack of funding. And yesterday I spent a lot of time on the phone with a mother—someone who has been searching for someone to talk to for two years—whose son, remarkably enough, is incarcerated at Pendleton youth prison and is one of Paul Henry Gingerich’s best friends. The woman’s son had told her about my role in Paul Henry’s appeal, and urged her to contact me for advice.

She and I are both thankful she did. Within two hours of her first call, I had contacted an influential person in Indiana who promised to make some inquiries and get back to me next week. When I called her back to tell her that my friend was working on her son’s case, she told me she had just awakened from a nap, the first peaceful sleep she had experienced since her son had been incarcerated. “I felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders,” she said.

But this nap happened before I’d called back to say that my friend was working on it. Apparently just having someone listen to her was benefit enough.

Yet a few moments ago, I said that I was thankful, too, for her call. The truth is, it was good to learn that Paul Henry is appreciative enough of what I did that he would share it with his friend, and that his friend would share it with his mom. It was good to learn that I could have such a positive impact on her by just listening and caring. It was her gift to me just knowing that I was needed. It filled me with a vigor I haven’t felt in a long time.

And this is the point of this post: someone needing help and someone else giving it is a transaction benefiting both parties. So often we fall into the trap of thinking of give-and-take as one party gaining from the transaction and the other party being diminished. But this isn’t how it works at all.

The magic of this economy of helping is that both parties are rejuvenated and made better, albeit in different roles. There need be no winners and losers—only winners.


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