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Aging: The Power Of Giving Back

When I was younger, I didn’t think all that much about “giving back” to my community. The professions I chose – academia,...

When I was younger, I didn’t think all that much about “giving back” to my community. The professions I chose – academia, policy, journalism – I selected because they tickled my fancy. They were fun, exciting, challenging.

And if – in the course of pursuing them, I happened to make a difference in someone else’s life – so much the better. But that wasn’t my primary goal in life. It was all about me.

As I delve ever more deeply into middle age, however, I find that I derive the most meaning when I’m helping other people. Perhaps this is unusual. We are, after all, purportedly living in an age of narcissism.

But I don’t think I’m all that unique. Indeed, I think that one of the great unheralded truths of middle age is that all the clichés turn out to be true. Among them:  the power of giving back.

Which is perhaps why I am so taken with Colleen Wainwright – aka Communicatrix’s – 50th birthday party celebration. Colleen has decided that as she hits this landmark birthday, she really doesn’t need any more “stuff.” She already has plenty of toasters.

Rather, what would really make her happy is if she could raise money for a non-profit in her home town that’s in need of some help. The non-profit is called WriteGirl. It’s a Los Angeles-based organization which partners teen-aged girls with women writers for creative writing workshops and one-on-one mentoring.

Colleen’s been involved with Write Girl for several years now. As she explains in this blog post about that experience:

I have cried at every WriteGirl workshop I’ve been to. I’ve also rarely laughed so joyously as I have there, nor felt more hope for humanity. These are amazing girls, all of them. They vary in their levels of introversion and extroversion, boldness and shyness, just like the rest of us, but each of them has been 100% present and committed at every workshop I’ve been to…They engage, they ask questions, they play, and they write. Oh, boy do they write, and how.

So in honor of her 50th birthday – which is exactly 50 days from today – Colleen has set herself the challenge of raising $50,000 to support Write Girl. As she notes, mastering the ability to write opens doors, builds self-confidence and self-esteem, and increases a girl’s chances of earning a living for herself and changing the world for present and future generations.

Pretty simple, huh?

So please. Pop by and pay a visit and see for yourself what this whole thing is about. See if you aren’t inspired to give something – even something small – to support this fabulous cause.

Bonus? There are lots of cool give-away prizes.

Double Bonus? If Colleen hits her goal by her birthday, she will shave off all of her hair.

(Wow. If it were *my* birthday, I might need to buy a wig.)

And thanks.


Image: Day 167 – Head by TiggerT via Flickr under a Creative Commons license


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  1. @TheGirlPie July 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    I love it when my online pals know and share each other ~ ! Now I realize that I must’ve been lead to you 12 months ago by reading Colleen (forever!), and I see the lovely synergy.

    As for Ms. Communicatrix’s party — “the more, the merrier!” is the perfect cliche for this one, see you “there!”

    • delialloyd July 26, 2011 at 7:23 am #

      @TheGirlPie – Love that synergy too. Party on!

  2. Daryl Boylan July 25, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    Way to go, Ms. Wainwright!

  3. Shelley July 26, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    I’m with you right up to the part about her shaving off her hair. Why would I want to make another woman – against whom I have no grudges whatsoever – shave her head? If I could submit a list of *other* women who would have to go head-naked, that might motivate me! Shame it doesn’t work like that, eh?

  4. delialloyd July 26, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Ha! That’s very interesting, Shelley. I think it’s sort of like those campaigns to raise awareness for prostrate cancer when men shave their heads…I’ve had several friends do that (or grow a beard, etc.) Not sure but I think she felt like she needed to do something pretty outrageous in exchange for asking for help…

  5. Donna Trussell July 26, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    What a great cause! I’ve led writing workshops for teenagers. They’ve always amazed me with both their talent and candor.

  6. Colleen Wainwright July 29, 2011 at 4:06 am #

    Whoa! Thank you for this amazingly supportive bit of fantastic writing, Ms. D.

    And thank you ALL for the nice comments. (Hi, GirlPie! Good to see you ’round these here parts!)

    @Shelley: It deserves a longer, more thoughtful essay—and one which I plan to write at some point during the campaign—but yes, one of the reasons has everything to do with what Delia said. I felt I needed to do something to show my level of commitment to this. (The other parts have to do with feminism and lookism and aging as a woman in a patriarchy, but you know, those are for the longer version.)

    What’s been fascinating is to see the range of reactions. The girls have all been 100% “Right on!” about the head-shaving; the reactions from the grownups definitely include that, but then flare off into “Huh?” and “Oh dear sweet jesus you have GOT to be kidding me are you NUTS?” Which, being perverse, only served to make me more excited about it.

    Anyway, it’s been a fascinating, if taxing, journey so far. Even with all the warning up front, both from the Internet and friends who’ve been through this, I had no idea how hard this would be. It’s consuming! But it’s also highly focusing, which has been awesome. That’s a place I don’t live all too often.


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