This post is part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who are making a difference in their communities.
Lisa Scarbrough, Founder, Coastal Pet Rescue
What inspired you to start giving?
I was raised in a Catholic family and attended Catholic school throughout my entire childhood. Giving was ingrained from my family, school, and Church. I spent time collecting change for various charities, serving in a soup kitchen, and then eventually, helping homeless animals, which is where I found my passion. As a mother, it's an example I'm hoping I'm passing on to my son.
What does giving mean to you? Why do you give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?
I've been raised to believe that if you want to change the world, you start in your own backyard. I give local because I live local. I founded an animal rescue in my early 20s to help the homeless pets in my community. I became a mom seven years ago which required me to start thinking about the children in my community as well. I've coached four seasons of youth soccer and am in my second year as a Cub Scout leader for my son's Pack. I take great joy in seeing my players and Cubs when they learn something new, improve their skills, or just see something different in the world around them. These may be small things, but these small things can grow into something much bigger over time.
What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back?
Don't wait. If there is something that interests you, even slightly, or a question plaguing you about your local community, get online and get connected. Don't be afraid to reach out. Read up on local organizations and groups, visit with a few, see where you feel like you can make a difference. If it doesn't work out at first, find another. There is not a single community that doesn't have a problem that needs some to get involved. The first step is yours to make.
Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
My son was 9 months old when his daycare teacher told me he was developmentally delayed. I cried. It had been a really rough 9 months, and even the 9 months before that, but I couldn't understand why. I was 31 when I had Ian, and I had only raised puppies and kittens up to that point in my life. It wasn't until several months later after completing paperwork and meeting requirements we were able to get him into the Babies Can't Wait program, and at 18 months, he was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder. The toddler years were rough, we faced challenges every day, and nothing at all went according to any of the books I read when I was pregnant. But the specialists who worked with us, who held my hand when I would cry at the end of a very hard session, gave me hope because they did not give up on us.
As a working mother, there was always a pang of nagging guilt because I wasn't devoting everything I thought I should to helping my child through his challenges. What I came to realize was that I didn't have everything he needed, and he truly needed a village. Over the next few years, this village would grow to incorporate elementary school teachers, sports coaches (he plays soccer - which I coach - and baseball - which I know absolutely nothing about), Scout leaders (which I ended up in), and the volunteers with my animal shelter. At age 7, my son, who struggled through early childhood to communicate and still receives speech therapy, became a lover of military museums and hiking state parks, has traveled for adventures in eight states, reads on a fourth grade level, almost never meets a stranger now, and loves to tell people he "works" at Coastal Pet Rescue. As a coach and Scout leader, I get to be a part of the village for someone else's child, and that to me is the greatest satisfaction of the work I do.