O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak Up. It’s Your Turn.
January is the perfect time to reflect, reorganize, and make those big life changes that one has always waited to make. Some people don’t make resolutions, but I revel in the opportunity to reinvent and take pause. I think many people felt a strong need to feel those big changes at the end of 2020, into this new year. However, there are obstacles to the goals that myself, and perhaps many others, might have made in this new year. Go to the gym; try new things; visit somewhere new! The classic resolutions are now filled with risk, and with risk comes anxiety and stress. Perhaps you are a person who has the capacity for more stress at this time. I personally have no vacancy left.
This year, a classic bullet journal life journey was not how I was going to start 2021 (Don’t get me wrong. I did try. I have another addition to my collection of partially full journals. The ghosts of journals past, one might say). New Year’s Day, I began the year with a “Donate Per Mile” fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, and walked 11 miles. And afterward, I felt happy, but I still felt that I could have done more and have the capacity to do more. Eating more salads just did not feel like the way to achieve a clean start from last year. With the frustrations, the scares, the uncertainty, and the daily challenges so many of us faced it seemed this year’s change needed to be more intentional, more specific, and more personal. What I felt was missing, that I needed to feel, was community.
In the Year-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, I faced the largest transformation of my life; I was laid off from my place of work after 13 part- and full-time years. I had no job. For the first time in my adult life, I was not teaching and working with children. I was overcoming an injury. Even my doctor, of my entire life, retired. I am blessed to say I was never homeless, I never struggled with food insecurity, and I was clothed and healthy. My journey is one that many others encountered in their own different ways. To be given the chance to face adversity, and not use it to be better, felt like an unused opportunity. I continued to contemplate how, locally, with no direct contact, I could help bring some good to my community.
Browsing Facebook, I happened upon a post by Families in Transition that led me to a list of high-need items. This felt like a concrete action I could take. Prior to Christmas, I had assumed my alter-ego “Cady Hickman, Theater,” and did video calls as the Grinch to raise money for FiT. I raised some money and, combined with some out-of-pocket holiday money, (thanks grandma!) I was able to purchase some travel shampoos and conditioners. I figured, perhaps others may want to easily help this cause as well, so I made a wishlist, and I shared it. It gained tons of traction, was shared all over southern New Hampshire, and in total, I collected….just the original shampoo and conditioner!
Any impact, is still impact. I was happy for my little box of cute toiletries.
But the magic of the Internet had something else in store for me. I was contacted by someone very kind, who saw what I was trying to do, and said I should consider joining this year’s day of service for MLK Day, this year the “Presidential Inauguration Committee MLK Day of Service.” This year, MLK Day of Service was highlighting virtual opportunities to participate in community service, so a drive was a perfect way to highlight a need and virtually do some good. I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to help FiT as they were coordinating emergency shelters and helping Manchester more than ever.
The first week of January 2021 has passed. It has been a week filled with a lot of confusion and uncertainty for our nation. Between personally facing some challenges, and watching the nation struggle as well, it was difficult to find the good around me. However, I firmly believe that at times you are struggling to find good around you, you have to be the one to make it happen. I dove into the drive, edited and added items based on needs I was told FiT has, created an official Mobilize event for the drive, uploaded everything to a Facebook event, and started my outreach.
Round two of the “High-Need Drive” has had a much better outcome, and we are on track to have this community effort be a huge success by the official service day (January 18). I have felt so detached from the community and those around me this year. But now, I am talking to friends online, speaking with local officials, and I’m feeling the good again.
Now my question to you is, do you need some good in your day? Do you want to join us in a day, or a week, of service to Manchester? Are you struggling to find the good, to see the good, to feel the good in the world around us? If you’re struggling, if you’re feeling isolated, or if the world feels heavy-join us, and let’s bring the good.
To join the event through the official National Event page, join here:
To donate through the virtual wishlist:
To spread the word via Facebook, click here and share:
To donate in person, you may drop items off at:
500 N Commercial Street
1 City Hall Plaza
Village Nest Cooperative
1412 State Road
Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Submissions on topics of general or community interest are welcome. Send to email@example.com, subject line: The Soapbox
Cady Hickman is an educator and actor based in New Hampshire. She currently offers virtual education opportunities for children on Facebook through “Cady Hickman, Theater”. For questions regarding the drive, she can be reached through her professional page at: www.facebook.com/misscadymusic