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Giving Back

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2015

By Michael Halliwell


Isn’t it amazing how many lives we touch in our day-to-day work? Or even when we are “off the clock”?

I’m not just talking about our brothers and sisters in the workforce either. Sure, we touch their lives too—everything from helping the “greenie” to learn the job to passing on our particular bit of “artistry” to go with the science of the job at hand.

But have you ever stopped to look at how much we actually touch the world around us and how much potential we have to make positive changes?

I’m pleased to have read several recent articles on PaintSquare and D+D News in which folks have been willing to step up and make a change.

Josh Cyganik via Facebook

A team of 100+ volunteers in Oregon recently painted a 75-year-old’s house after passing teenagers poked fun at the residence

I know not everyone will mobilize a hundred people to paint a retiree’s house after a comment by teens, or give up time to help a historical foundation preserve a bridge or battleship, or perform work as a “labor of love” on a World’s Fair pavilion, but it is wonderful to see so many of us making the effort to take those extra steps.

Considering how many articles and video clips these days show everything that is wrong with the world, it is wonderful to see those around us trying to make the world a better place.

Making a Difference

Every year about this time I get a bit reflective on what we can do to help those around us. You see, I take part in a charity bicycle ride to help raise funds for cancer research, and, for the last few years, it has taken place near the start of August.

This year was especially poignant for me, and not just because I was dedicating my ride to a family member, but also because of what I saw on the road that weekend.

Yes, there are all the big numbers that people see—the thousands of riders out on the road, the millions of dollars raised through their efforts in the last year, and the speeches and symbolism that accompany an event like this, including the individuals riding with survivor flags on their bikes.

It is the small stories along the way that drive home how much of a difference an individual can make.

But it is the small stories along the way that drive home how much of a difference an individual can make. For me, it was at the top of one particularly long, grinding climb on the second day of riding in the foothills of the Rockies.

A Word of Encouragement

You see, on one of the driveways, a young lady and her friend had set up a couple of chairs and some signs. “Baldie,” as her sign proclaimed, was there to cheer us on while we rode.

She was young—in her early 20s at best, fairly pale, and she had absolutely no hair on her head. Baldie is fighting cancer.

I had pulled in to deal with a mechanical issue that had sprung up with my chain on the climb. While I was getting my tools out and actually working on my bike, I listened to the encouragement Baldie and her friend offered to the riders and they rode by—and that the riders offered to her in return as she sat there with her sign. It was an almost surreal experience.

By the time I was done my repair and packed up, I had heard so much love, encouragement and appreciation—the good side of humanity—that I was almost in tears (and I am not normally an emotional type).

In spite of her weakness, Baldie continued to cheer on the riders and I couldn’t ride away without trying to help her on her journey too. I grabbed a portion of the chain I had just removed, cleaned it up and walked over.

© iStock.com / Claudiad

It doesn’t matter how we use our skills or talents, folks…only that we try to make the world around us a better place as we go.

Getting down to her level as she sat, I said something like: “Baldie, I know you’re fighting, and I know it isn’t an easy one. I also know that a little piece of metal bike chain, taken just by itself, isn’t worth much. But when the fight is tough, I want you to have this so you can remember all these people you see today, working their bodies and bikes hard, trying to make the fight a little easier for you and all the others in the fight too.”

As I started riding away and could find my voice again, I passed on one more bit of encouragement. Baldie nodded, her eyes as moist as mine.

Step Up and Help

It doesn’t matter how we use our skills or talents, folks…only that we try to make the world around us a better place as we go. A word of encouragement here, a little bit of hard work there and we build up those around us and the world in which we live.

It may not seem like much to volunteer some time, effort or even just a few words, but to someone who needs it, that can mean the world.

What we give back doesn’t need to be so informal either. There are advisory groups and volunteer opportunities in most professional associations, unions and communities that could use a hand.

There are organizations ranging from Habitat for Humanity (those with painting/coating experience are certainly welcome) and restoration jobs (ever wanted to blast and coat a battleship?) to workplace safety committees or industry technical review committees.

All of these groups can benefit from our time and expertise—we just need to be willing to step up and off the use our talents and skills.

Michael Halliwell

 

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Michael Halliwell

Michael Halliwell, M.Eng., CESA, EP, P.Eng., is an Associate and Environmental Engineer for Thurber Engineering Ltd. in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. During his 17-plus years with the company, he has been involved with environmental site assessment, remediation, construction inspection and supervision, and project management. He also performs hazardous building material assessments for asbestos and lead paint.

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Tagged categories: Engineers; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Project Management; Thurber Engineering Ltd.; Asia Pacific; Causes; Community service; Donations; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Ethics; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Rebuilding; Service

Comment from M. Halliwell, (6/20/2016, 11:19 AM)

Thanks for the re-post on this one...it comes at an appropriate time. I'm still fund raising for this year's Ride to Conquer Cancer. 50 days to go until the big event again.


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