Years ago, in 1866, a sermon by French theologian Hyacinthe Loyson delivered words that are still applicable 154 years later. It read, “Blessed are old people who plant trees knowing that they shall never sit in the shade of their foliage.” The idea of doing something or contributing for the benefit of others has long been woven into the fabric of our societies. President, John F. Kennedy once said, “For of those to whom much is given, much is required.” The quote of Loyson implies simply doing good, even though you do not get to see the benefit, is a contribution. Kennedy’s comment might lead us to think of financial contribution, sharing the wealth when possible. In truth, both are vital to the generations to follow. Providing contributions can be given is a multitude of ways.

If neither money nor time is in excess, how do we contribute to impact the world around us? When I was a young single mom, making contributions always meant money – of which there was seldom enough. Later in life, I had this revelation that perhaps my gift to society was raising children who had been taught right from wrong and would readily open their hearts when others were in need.

Maybe it’s the social worker that provides the much-needed ear to listen, to be the person who will pick up a call at 11:00 at night when a client is in distress to help them through a crisis, contributing to the person’s well-being and demonstrating to them the gift of listening.

Teachers must rank at the top of the contributors list, if not a parent, who better to plant seeds for the future than a teacher? So many of us remember those special people that believed in us even when we did not, that confidence can serve us for a lifetime. Every job interview or decision in the future can draw from that feeling of self-worth.

Perhaps it’s the friend that seems to make it their job to be there when we are sick, or having a bad day that makes chicken soup or cookies for us. In doing so, they demonstrate to us the value of friendship and inspire us to want to do more for others as we make our journey through life.

Recently, I watched a video interview of a woman known for her cooking in her community. Since the stay at home orders due to Covid-19, many young mothers and young people forced to work from home found themselves in need of cooking skills. A friend asked the woman to please tell her how to make biscuits. Due to being elderly, instead of the risk of exposure, she made a video and posted on her Facebook step by step making biscuits. The young friend forwarded the video and soon it went viral. Within a month, almost a million people were watching and learning how to cook from the 73-year-old grandmother. It seems with our busy lives many of us found take out the answer, not taking the time to teach cooking to our children as our grandmothers did for us. As a result, the grandmother’s videos of biscuits, tomato pie and pot pies may be passed to the next generations.

In reality, we can all be “contributor’s” when we show love or concern for others, no matter if it is a stranger or someone we love. We contribute to someone else having a good day, feeling special or in some cases, just demonstrating that someone cared. Reading a book to a child or an elderly person who can no longer see the print, leave a nice note at the table after a cup of coffee for a server to find, simply pick up a phone and check on someone who many be alone. The list of “Contributors” on the wall of a museum may represent great wealth but the acts of kindness and love given to someone you pass on your journey of life may be recorded in their heart and soul for a lifetime.