My friend Judy is an extraordinary woman. She's a survivor, overcoming an abusive relationship, but she's also a thriver, helping other women do the same.
For more than a decade, Judy's run a nonprofit organization in Indianapolis to help families get back on their feet. The reason many people return to their abusers is that they run out of resources and simply feel they can't do it alone, and Judy helps them make the transition.
She could just be giving out handouts. Rent assistance here, meals there. But she goes beyond that.
Judy's organization helps link clients to job training, to housing resources, to empowerment training for them and their children. She's helping stop the cycle of violence by helping clients have the internal strength to address their external needs.
It's the old adage of you can give a man to fish and give him a meal, or teach a man to fish and he can feed himself forever.
Each of us carries with us that same responsibility to pick up others around us. You can bemoan the problems in this society, swear about the increase in taxes or gas prices, and roll your eyes each time the news comes on. Or you can be proactive.
We each have resources that we can offer to make the world a better place: socially, environmentally, however you see fit. And, while it may appear to be easier when you're rich or at least affluent, the reality is making a difference can be accomplished in those little steps we take.
In whether we vote, and not just every four years. Each and every election - from the school board to the state legislature - helps pave the path for our region's future. Rich or poor, our vote is the great equalizer.
In how we use our resources. Are our dollars wasted on junk? Are they used to support the causes we believe in? Do we spend them on environmentally friendly products or just what's on sale? Do we buy items made in sweat shops? How we use our resources says much about our value system.
In how we pave the path for future generations. Are we being responsible in supporting clean air, water and food sources for the future? Regardless of our financial situations, we can make a difference by making small changes where our resources allow to make a difference on our society. Even if you're broke, you can educate yourself, write an e-mail or sign a petition.
In how we teach others. We demonstrate our values by our example. And others - from the very old to the youngest among us - are watching. How do they see you?