Generosity As A Lifestyle
For Betty, generosity just comes naturally. Even as a child, she was always looking for ways to give and bless others. It is an outpouring from within and she has found that while it is meant to benefit others, it also benefits her.
“It feels good to be able to give,” she reflects. “I’m always looking for opportunities to help others.”
There are many ways that Betty gives of herself. She has made financial donations to several charities in her neighbourhood, especially those that serve children. She has also volunteered her time and has found that giving in this way also makes her feel good.
All of this is important to Betty who lives with mental health challenges. She lives in a home facilitated by Communitas Supportive Care Society that is specifically for aging adults who have lived much of their lives with mental health challenges. She appreciates the support and encouragement she receives here and has also found ways to share generously with her community, both in the home and beyond.
Barbara Rusu, who manages the home where Betty lives, says Betty’s generosity has made an impact.
“Betty has put her heart and soul into others and attempts to make their lives a little bit brighter,” Barbara says. “She has a generous heart and the desire to share what she can with the resources she has. Giving back is important to Betty’s mental wellness.”
Generosity has been a hallmark of Betty’s life, flowing out of a grateful heart. As a child she saved her allowance to buy Christmas gifts for others. As an adult, she turned to volunteerism to sustain her mental health when illness prevented her from continuing with her career.
“It took me a while to realize that I wouldn’t get back into the workforce so volunteering really helped me a lot,” she says. “I’ve always treated my volunteer jobs the same way I approached my paid jobs: being on time, dressing professionally, and doing my best. I think work is very important to one’s mental health.”
Her family supported her in these endeavours, especially her mother who encouraged her to find positive things to do with her time. She has volunteered with the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce and also with Volunteer Kamloops, putting her administrative and people skills to good use.
The desire to give back also stems from her deep commitment to her faith, taking seriously the teachings of the Bible on caring for others.
“As a Christian who cares, I try to be a positive influence, to give back, and to be a friend,” she says. “I know that it’s hard sometimes to be a friend to someone who lives with mental health challenges, so I want to be a good friend.”
Today she is putting her skills and her generosity to work at the home where she lives. She once worked in a bistro and has put those skills to work in the kitchen, contributing to meals with the help of staff, like Herma. Betty appreciates the support she gets from Herma and Barbara; their hands are depicted in the image at top as a creative expression of their friendship and generosity.
“When you live with mental illness, sometimes people don’t take you seriously but I really like it here because the staff, like Barb and Herma, they are really supportive,” she says.
Betty continues to look for ways to give to others. Her birthday is in February and she threw a pizza party for all the residents in the home, ordering in Boston Pizza.
“It’s nice to include everyone but I also get to benefit – I get Boston Pizza too!” she says with a smile.