This post is part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who are making a difference in their communities.
McKenna-Jane Carr, Director & Board President, 2dance2dream
What inspired you to start giving?
Growing up, two of my sisters were in and out of therapy clinics. Going from speech therapy to physical and occupational therapy clinics, I realized that there was something that caught my attention, even as a young kid, about working with children who have special needs. Then, upon witnessing an adult bully my sister and discriminate against her (who was only 4yrs old at the time), a fire lit in my belly to ensure that every dancer has access to an environment where they are accepted, encouraged and can grow.
What does giving mean to you? Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?
I am currently finishing up my undergraduate degree in Business. As part of my studies, we discuss the difference between personalized power and socialized power. Really, the only difference is who benefits from the use of power. We can all think of two people who have exemplified this; one who has used power for personal gain and the other who passionately pushes for the sake of others. It is my desire to practice the latter of these two.
To that end, I believe that giving is bold and fierce and important.
None of us feel as though we yet have enough--time, talents, or finances--but something magical happens when we give. I wholeheartedly believe that when we open our hands, they will be filled.
What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back? Share a piece of advice will help them get started.
Be consistent with the small stuff! It may be giving $5 out of your paycheck or volunteering for one event each month. Believe it or not, some of the greatest support that we receive comes from high school and college students who can only give 2 hours a month. Not only this, but if there is a group of people you are interested in serving, start by spending time with them.
For me, it started by smiling at and chatting with the other families in those therapy waiting rooms years ago. For friends of mine who serve those experiencing homelessness, it started by volunteering once a month at a local organization to hand out meals and supplies.
When you spend time with the people face-to-face and know them by name, one of their stories will catch your attention and will light a fire bright enough to show the next step.
Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.
For the past couple of summers, I've have the privilege of volunteering with a group called Camp In Motion in Austin, Texas, that gives campers with Cerebral Palsy the opportunity to dance, play sports and swim in partnership with YMCA of Austin.
One morning, as I arrived for camp and prepared to teach, I could tell everyone was pretty tired. Honestly, I wasn't sure how productive we'd be because everyone seemed so sleepy!
We started class and decided to begin, as always, with a dance circle. During the dance circle, every camper had the chance to go into the middle and show off their favorite moves.
On this particular occasion, a new camper was in attendance and seemed pretty shy.
However, when it was his turn, he took the floor with more gusto and confidence than most of us could hope for ourselves! He had such a charismatic personality that the volunteers and camp staff were hooping and hollering the whole time! A couple of dabs and a nay nay later, everyone was energetic and ready to dance some more thanks to our "shy" friend!
As I left that day, I was reminded that no diagnosis, no equipment, and no bias can keep a dancer from challenging their limits and reminding us that inclusion is a lot easier than we think, and worth more than we can measure.