ParentClick Ventura

Helping in the classroom – giving and getting


I was once told that people can be divided into two categories: givers and takers… While I think this statement oversimplifies something very complicated, it has a stark element of truth to it. The crucial thing dividing people into these two groups does not account for, however, is the fact that people who are “givers” claim that they end up being the takers and receivers. The givers claim to become “getters” through the act of giving. I know this was the case for me.

The clearest example of this was at my children’s elementary school. Our family started late at this school, not with the kindergarten class. As a new parent, I felt disconnected and shy around the parents who had known one another for several years. I was working a lot that year and did not immediately get involved in day-to-day volunteer opportunities. The result was that I did not feel a connection with the community I had heard such amazing things about, a community that was a large part of why our family had decided to switch schools. To try to do something about this, I made the decision to start volunteering in small ways where I could. I signed up for traditional things that parents volunteer for at schools—bake sales, field trip chaperoning, helping during art classes, helping to plant a vegetable garden, helping to serve hot lunch. I volunteered for auction projects, events, and school fairs. Volunteering for these positions was tricky with work that year, but I managed to show up often enough for something extraordinary to happen. I made friends. I met a group of positive “doer” parents. I got to know my children’s classmates and teachers. More important than anything, my girls saw me working to help their school. They saw that I thought their school was important enough to care about. I also started to really understand and appreciate the school my children attended.

Over the course of several years, I got more involved. I enjoyed applying skills that I had acquired professionally in new ways to help the school. One day after a couple of hours volunteering at the school, I thought about all the people I had gotten to know and how many lives I had been a part of that day. My volunteer work that day was not going to make the world a better place necessarily, but it was making my children’s school a better school. I was helping children and furthering education, and it felt good to be a part of that effort. I then thought about how many of the students I had worked with that day had touched me. I had the clear realization that by being a giver, I was actually a receiver, a taker. The energy I had put in had more than come back to me.

I will not argue that there are givers and takers in the world. Most likely, I think that all of us are a combination of the two. I do know for certain, however, that by some mysterious and wonderful force of nature, it’s the givers who get in the end.

[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]

January 3, 2015

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