Tuesday, July 30, 2013

MY FRENCH SHUI CAFÉ BLOG ARCHIVES: 08/31/2009 People like you and me. Why charity should begin at our doorstep. Now.

People like you and me. Why charity should begin at our doorstep. Now.
"I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?"~ Mother Theresa

Bonjour mes amis!

This new post is probably not the most fun one I could ever blog but it is essential to me.

A few months ago, I was talking with a friend of mine and expressing how tired I was of seeing otherwise very generous people giving lots of money to multiple charities all over the world, while closing their eyes on the striking raising poverty in their own neighborhood or even personal circles.
Don't get me wrong: I do NOT say not to donate to worldwide non profits. They do a fabulous job and we all need to support them.  Two of my favorites: Medecins sans Frontieres
and Amnesty International

What I say is, and I am sure that it could sound provocative, is:
We can't fool ourselves by only sending tax deductible checks and feeling good about it while we are surrounded by a growing wave of desperation in our closest environment.

I know, it is as easy to loose touch with our surroundings as it is to get distracted on Twitter! We live separated by gizmos, screened by passwords; even resumes are first selected by computers before anybody get to read them! People like you and me and who have still have jobs are overworked and scared of losing their position/clients, while laid-off people also like you and me are busy trying to make things happen before... before what? ... before the unemployment checks stop paying their rent, before their
savings stop paying their mortgage, before ... they are suddenly homeless.
People like you and me.

Yesterday I met Elyssa Durant on Twitter (@ElyssaD) and I encourage you to subscribe to her blog:
Elyssa blogs on a her everyday fight to get a home, escape from the shelter violence, get back to the decent life that escaped from her one day, by accident. Trust me, it is not sugar-coated and you will witness a 35 year old girl trying to keep her sanity and her backberry while facing violence, incompetence, denial, abandon.
A girl like you and me.

One last thought... You may find ironic that I look so dressed up on a Vlog talking about homeless. It is purposefully planed. Appearances are deceiving. Take me as an example. If tomorrow I do not have enough clients/projects to pay for my bills and rent, what do you think will happen? I have no back up. Will I lose my stylish clothes and famous shoes? NO: I will loose my home. At first it will not show on my social image. I will probably still look fabulous for a while. However it will maybe kill me.
A girl like you: me?

We are one.
Let's open our hearts, our eyes, and give a hand or a food basket!
Asking our neighbors and our friends: "How are you doing? Are you OK?" and really listening to their answer.

In Joy and Respect, for All.


PS: Once more I want to promote the mission of my friend Richard Bassett (@RichBassett) in Boston who does an incredible job to raise awareness for human causes and connect people:

PPS: I am working hard on the Saint Vincent Pro-Bono project now with the support of the San Francisco Design Center and Philanthropy By Design. If you want to give at-risk abused teenagers a chance to stand for themselves by living in a healthier uplifting home, contact me. I am remodeling a house with Feng Shui principles and fun colors! Merci.

Know your neighbors. Build a true community. We can all be homeless tomorrow.
"The act of NOT helping is an action in and if itself. Do not look the other way, bystander apathy public safety issue for all. Random Act Of Kindness". ~ Elyssa Durant 

Your Comments:

8/31/2009 5:57 PM Debby wrote:

I didn't realize how involved you are in so many worthwhile organizations and your words ring so true. "No man is an island", as they say. How important it is to be attentive and empathetic to others around us, to count our blessings and/or lucky stars, to lend our ears and hearts to others, and express gratitude daily as soon as our feet hit the ground in the morning.

Merci de nous rappeler l'essentiel de la vie!
8/31/2009 6:28 PM French Shui Cafe I Cat Grison wrote:
Merci beaucoup!
Your beautiful comment touches me a lot.

I dedicated all my career to "the human", "l'humain". With different ways, different points of entries, from education and art when I was managing a Graphic Design School in Paris to training and coaching and interior decoration and Feng Shui and... The list never ends, as whoever I am in this incarnation, I will find a way to grow and help somebody else growing too. Sometimes it is a small touch, sometimes it gets more visible.

In my career and my personal life, I saw so many incredible beings crunched by
accidents, when sometimes just a piece of free legal advice or an anonymous donation would have given them the push they needed to make it through. But "nobody knew"... Same way that "nobody knows" when children are abused or an entire population is dis/misplaced!

Of course I have also my
soft points, I am not detached at all from the consumerism! Trust me... too many shoes, not enough feet! Far away from perfection, this is why I am so human! However the more I grow, the less I judge, but the less tolerance I have for hypocrisy or denial!

Smiles and Blessings to you,
Au revoir...

8/31/2009 9:24 PM Heather wrote:
Catherine, once again you have hit on the essence of the issue.
Who are our neighbors? Why don't we know each other? What accountability do we have to each other? Who do we turn to when we need help? How many people can you really ask for help if you need it?
Sadly for many they feel there is no one, and when the work, money and support disappears really nice people like you and me end up in dire situations.
But there is always someone who has it worse, and if you are in a position to help you should start close to home. And start by answering the tough questions.
Thank you for your inspiration and for the courage!
8/31/2009 10:55 PM French Shui Cafe I Cat Grison wrote:
Merci Heather...

I was thinking of our conversation, and then I met Elyssa. When I went on her blog, the post got my in tears in 1/2 of a second. Big tears, the wave. I decided to do this post.

If one of my readers/watchers ask a friend or a neighbor a real question tonight, it will already be useful.

Smiles, Blessings and Bacon cookies (private joke)!

9/1/2009 9:23 AM anne wrote:
Je constate quand même que les services sociaux sont nettement plus deficients outre-Atlantique qu'en Suisse, mais hélas ça en prend aussi le chemin chez nous avec toutes les coupes annoncées dans les dépenses publiques... En attendant, je m'occupe quand je peux de ma vieille voisine, qui elle n'est pas à la rue, mais bon, c'est ma BA perso...
9/1/2009 10:55 AM French Shui Cafe I Cat Grison wrote:
Bonjour Anne!
Nor a lot of ! in my last post as you noticed...
I am sorry to read that even in Switzerland, budgets for helping people in need get cut. 
9/3/2009 4:33 PM Anita Nelson wrote:
Brilliant post, Catherine!

Yesterday on our local news, they showed the disbanding of a "tent city" no one really knew existed near Ann Arbor, MI. Here were people living beneath trees and a tarp - lots of them! - and they were VERY upset to be losing THAT set up. They had lived in an apartment building that had apparently gone bankrupt and they didn't know where they would go! I thought, they are already nowhere, surely a government agency will step in! But they had already "used up" their time at the shelters.
I have not seen a follow up story on this! There's ALWAYS a follow up story the next day about how an apartment let the people live there or the shelter let them in. Not today. I don't know what to do. This is a couple of hundred miles from me, yet it's right next door. You're so very right about how close any of us actually is. There but for the Grace of God go I.
Thank you for this post, Catherine.
Anita Nelson @ModelSupplies
9/3/2009 4:59 PM French Shui Cafe I Cat Grison wrote:
Merci Anita,
for this heartfelt comment.

Every coach will tell you that every success story begins with a bankruptcy but I am not so sure it works that well when people have entire families to support and not even a bathroom. It is easier to get one friend on your sofa than one family.
What to do? Accept the survival of the fittest and nobody else? I don't think so!
Raise awareness in your own community, have a fundraising, find a building owner who could maybe help...
Ma cherie, I don't know either... But stand for what you feel is true, and build a bit more community, step by step.

Joy & Respect,
10/6/2009 8:42 PM Jodi Raven Hawk wrote:
In my world, you donate yourself to your community. Elders are taken care of and people who need help get it most the time. That is what I was taught on my path and it was also innate in my spirit growing up.

My father died when I was 8. There were crazy times that followed, however, my mother instilled in me how to give. Before she started back to school, my mom would bring home people from the Free Clinic in SF as they had no where else to go. She fed them and they would stay a bit. Although my mom didn't have much money, it didn't stop her from giving.

Giving begins at home. For me, I have no children, however, I am care taker of my four legged kids. I am also care taker of this earth. I go out and give of myself. I miss that right now as money is so tight I cannot afford the gas I would need to do some HIV counseling in another town.

Everyday, I see something new. I look around me. Today I saw two small doe's. It saddened my heart as I knew that their parent must have been killed and they were fending for themselves.
You can be anywhere and notice things. Does not have to be in the country. When I am doing errands, I might notice a bird that landed near by and say hello. I might just smile or open a door for someone. Giving comes in many forms.
I do miss that I cannot give to organizations. I NEVER used them as tax deductions. I gave to them as I believed in the work they were doing.

There are times that it is GOOD to be distracted by your surroundings as they can be quite negative. Being a person that remains calm and peaceful inside as there is craziness all around them. Your energy can affect water. It can affect so many things. The way you give, does it come from your heart? Are you trying to prove something to others? Many reasons why someone gives.
I have been on a fixed income for a long time now, however, it never prevented me from volunteering somewhere. With the homeless, HIV/AIDS counseling, Alcohol/Drug counseling, working to rehabilitate seals back to the wild. The list goes on and on. That is what my spirit misses in my life.
I was ALWAYS grateful for any part time job I could get to help with the finances. People who do have jobs tend to forget those who do not.

That is why I chose to persue my dream of writing. Getting our animated screenplay on the screen. What am I going to do when that happens. First take care of me (as I tend to over give) then work my way through my small community, then to the world at large.
Giving, I feel, needs to come from an unconditonal love in your heart. It all starts with the heart and the energy you emit from it. There are so many ways to give. So many things to see.
Just this morning I was sitting on my steps watching the full moon and thinking just how beautiful it was. The cold wasn't even affecting me - it was 30 degrees outside.

I really like your blogs. They bring up issues that need to be discussed and hopefully more will wake up and "smell" the roses.
10/19/2009 1:53 AM Interior French wrote:
I love this article. It really shows how people should be concerned about everybody that she/he knows.

11/24/2009 11:32 AM Britt wrote:

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