When Kelly had asked me, “why did you choose to donate the amount to us?”, I had to stop, to actually process that question because the “gift of unconditional giving” felt somehow “innate”. Growing up, life was not easy, my family was one of the “Vietnamese boat people” who had to escape from the humanitarian crisis in 1977. After being rescued by the US Navy, my family stayed in various camps and mostly lived on dry sardines and cold rice. Until this day, images remind me of the challenges and extreme suffrage that we had to overcome.
As years’ pass, my family and I were given the gift of unconditional giving; we were adopted by a family in Minnesota, were afforded an opportunity to move to the United States, and were challenged to build a life in California. Although I did not live in the best of neighborhoods, I continued to have much appreciation from the abundant support from nonprofit organizations and the social services that have served us. Specifically, after school programs allowed me to have a safer place to hang out; I come to learn basic life skills, and parenting classes taught my parents to raise “a healthy me”. As well, low income assistance programs such as HUD and Food Stamps assisted with paying for some of the rent and provided food on the table.
During my preteen, I worked in a sweatshop, that paid pennies for each dress that I was cutting, and I knew that this role was not something that I want to do for the rest of my life. Additionally, student programs such as the Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) and coupled with my personal life history helped me to realize as that I wanted to obtain a career that involved the gift of unconditional giving: I chose to become a licensed social worker. Therefore, I decided to further my education, and with governmental and private assistance, I was able to obtain some financial aid to attend UCI and eventually USC to study social work; finally, LiveWell Therapy was formed with a mission in mind.
As I reflect on my life, my mission has never been to just live, raise my two children as a single mother, and work, it is to breathe – deeply, and to take in and appreciate every single aspect of and have much gratitude for receiving the gift of unconditional giving. Often times, people take things for granted, you may want to ask yourself, what I've never had what I need?” Giving to those who are lacking, shows that you are grateful for what you have and want to make sure that their needs are met as well. Taking some of what you have and giving to those less fortunate is a great way to pay it forward and often times, even the smallest things that we give can make the biggest change in the lives of others. When we give a gift, whether it’s through a donation or being a leader or guide for a youngster who is wanting to obtain a career, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The return outweighs the small price of admission in building a healthy tomorrow. After all, Life is a balance, Learn to Live Well.
Patricia Chan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, an advocate of change, currently completing her degree in the doctorate of psychology and adjunct lecturer in the graduate school of social work at USC. She is the founder of LiveWell Therapy in Chino Hills and practices counseling.
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