Have you ever had someone you don't know touch your life in an unforgettable way?
That happened to me last spring, when a prominent member of my city's fitness community passed away after a tragic bicycle accident. Meredith Hagan was a well-known personal trainer, runner, triathlete and fitness coach.
Working with a close friend, Meredith co-founded a boot-camp training program called Phat Fit and the women branded themselves the Phat Chicks. Much like the fitness group I belong to, the Phat Chicks were trying to inspire other women and men in our community to better themselves through physical fitness.
I never met Meredith, but several of my friends knew her well. Her tragic accident shocked our community and sent many of us reeling. Here was a young, beautiful, intelligent, healthy and fit mother, wife and community member, and she was taken much, much too soon.
After her death, one of my friends sent me a link to Meredith's blog. To my surprise, it wasn't about fitness or nutrition. It was about her six-year-old daughter, and how they had made a pact to do one good deed each week. It could be anything, from helping the environment by picking up trash or donating clothes to someone in need. All that mattered was they did something for others once a week for 52 weeks.
The blog chronicled all the good deeds Meredith and her daughter did. With tears in my eyes, I read of how the young girl donated the contents of her piggy bank to Haiti for earthquake relief, gave less fortunate children some cherished toys and donated hats to cancer patients. The blog was touching, inspiring and motivating.
The truth is we're all busy. With busy careers, families, activities and other social obligations, we don't always find time to help out those others in need. Meredith did. She was a busy mom, business owner and wife but still found time to make her community – and her world – a better place.
I couldn't let this incredible spirit of giving just disappear. I realized that one of Meredith's goals was to inspire others to do more, and I was inspired. I wanted to take up that mantle to do good deeds and teach my children the same thing. I wanted to volunteer to help those in need. I wanted to make a difference.
The problem was that I didn't know where to start. The amount of volunteer opportunities out there is overwhelming. There are so many causes close to my heart that I want to support – The Hospital for Sick Children, the MS Society, the Alzheimer's Society, The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, food banks, Children's Aid, the SPCA. How could I choose just one? And even if I could choose, would I be able to fit it in with everything else on my plate?
I figured if I was struggling with these questions, a lot of other people were as well. I dove into the research to see what I could find. The end result is our article, "Do unto others" here on Primacy Life. I hope it will provide the resources you need to get started making a difference in your own community.
As for me, I decided to use Meredith as inspiration and start doing one good deed every week with my children. We started by talking about all the things we want to do, then tried to do one every week. We're not perfect – sometimes a week or two goes by when we can't do our good deed – but we're trying. It may not be much, but every little bit counts. If we all do something small each week, together we can make a big difference.
I think Meredith would agree.
A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.