There are so many ways to give, from donating money and volunteering to devoting time and attention to a worthy cause. Another way to give is encouragement — simple, imaginative, thoughtful encouragement — especially to those who need it most.
A great example is my friend Maralene Strom, who is business counselor for Supported Self-Employment, an agency serving adults with disabilities.
One day while shopping, Maralene was approached by a woman she had never met but who knew one of her clients, Brenda. The woman thanked Maralene for giving Brenda motivation and instilling self-confidence in her.
Brenda, who has a cognitive disability, had begun her own cleaning company, Little Dynamo, which is also Maralene’s nickname for her. Brenda wanted to show Maralene one of her poems but hesitated, saying, “No one thinks they are any good.” Maralene encouraged her to go ahead, and she read the poem.
“She doesn’t write rhyming poems,” says Maralene, “but they are still very good. This one was called The Storm.”
Maralene found a picture of a storm, put it on PowerPoint slide along with the poem, which she reformatted, taking care to include Brenda’s name as author and added a © copyright symbol. Says Maralene:
“You cannot believe how proud she was to see it printed and in a frame. She cried. Since then she’s written several more, and I’ve let her select which photo to put with each one.
“She wrote one about the Special Olympics, which she had won; I combined it with a picture of her gold medal, printed it out and framed it. We made a big deal of her presenting it to the director of Special Olympics — took pictures and everything.
“The director told her that the next newsletter would have the picture and poem in it. She was so thrilled, and I told her, ‘Yay, you, are now published!’”
What a wonderful bit of encouragement. So simple, so easy to do—and that’s all Brenda needed to dig deeper into the depths of her being and continue to create. Maralene’s adding value to her through encouragement has now allowed the “Little Dynamo” to add even more value to the world.