Tag Archives: help others

Clowning Around

One way to stay “forever young” is to help others.

A growing body of research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better physical and mental health and that volunteers even live longer.

Want more proof of the benefits of volunteering?

Volunteer Clowns Ray And Linda Faczan
70 Seven And Kor-Kee
Meet Ray Faczan, a 67-year-old retired pharmaceutical salesman and his 66-year old wife, Linda Faczan, a retired medical secretary.

Linda and Ray serve their community in Central Pennsylvania by, well, clowning around.

I mean that literally. They are volunteer clowns. You know, facial makeup, red noses, wigs, costumes, extra-large shoes and gags galore. That kind of clown.

When they are performing as clowns, Linda and Ray actually take on the persona of their clown character. So let’s meet those characters.

Linda’s clown name is “Kor-Kee,” which is derived from her ability to make beautiful wreaths out of corks. Ray is “70 Seven” because he is 77 inches tall.

Not only does every clown have a nom de clown, but they also have a costume and a makeup style derived from the type of clown they are.

Types of Clowns

There are 3 main types of clowns: Whiteface, Auguste and Hobo.

Volunteer Clowns Ray And Linda Faczan
70 Seven And Kor-Kee
Whiteface clowns wear full white makeup on their face with precise and delicate red and white features. (The European Whiteface clown even goes as far as painting his ears red.) A Whiteface clown usually dresses extravagantly and has a costume mostly made up of white with some color trim.

Auguste clowns wear fleshtone makeup with white around the mouth and eyes, often with a black line surrounding the white. This type of clown usually has a large ball-shaped comedy nose. August clowns have the widest range of costumes of all clowns. They often exaggerate their clothing with such things as over-sized coats, undersized hats or very short pants and colorful suspenders.

Hobo clowns are either happy hobos or sad tramps. They have a black coal or a soot-like appearance with white around the eyes and mouth. The up or down shape of their eyebrows reveals whether they are a sad tramp or a happy hobo. As you would expect, hobo and tramp clowns wear costumes that are old and worn.

Can you tell from their pictures which type of clown Kor-Kee and 70 Seven are?

The answer is at the end of the article.

How Kor-Kee And 70 Seven Got Started Clowning

Kor-Kee and 70 Seven started clowning about 6 years ago.

Having been invited for a number of years to join the local clown club, but not having the time to accept, 70 Seven finally gave in and went to the club’s clown school.

Do You Know What Coulrophobia Is?

It is fear of clowns. Characteristic symptoms are such things as breathlessness and heart palpatations. Treatment normally involves progressive desensitization, starting with things like looking at photos of clowns and working up to being in their presence.

He is a fun and funny guy naturally and thought it would be great to have another way to make people laugh.

And, because they do virtually everything together, Kor-Kee joined him.

After they were trained, Kor-Kee and 70 Seven became active in the Classic Clown Club which has 25 or 30 members ranging in age from 30-something to the mid-80s. That’s right, mid-80s. Do you need any more proof that clowning and volunteer work keep you young and active?

The local clown club is affiliated with a larger international organization called Clowns of America International.

The local chapters – called “alleys” – have regular meetings, plan appearances – which they call “gigs” – and have workshops. Members can also attend conventions and alleys can compete for national awards.

What Is It Like To Be A Volunteer Clown

Kor-Kee, 70 Seven and their cohorts entertain at festivals, banquets, business picnics, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, school carnivals and community gatherings of all types.

At their gigs, Kor-Kee likes to face paint while 70 Seven makes balloons and performs magic tricks. They both do” walk arounds” where they stroll through the crowd entertaining, largely with sight gags. Sometimes, they present scripted clown skits.

When I asked Kor-Kee and 70 Seven what is the best thing about clowning, they had the same answer. It’s the satisfaction of bringing a smile to someone or raising a person’s spirits, especially at nursing homes and in hospitals. That satisfied feeling makes all the effort worthwhile and keeps this couple clowning.

Actually, when they visit hospitals, 70 Seven and Kor-Kee wear different costumes. Instead of their usual clown garb, they wear lab coats and carry stethoscopes. Even their names are different. At the hospital, Kor-Kee’s name tag says “Dr. Lauren Gitis” and 70 Seven’s reads “Dr. Gerri Attrix.”

Volunteer Clowns Ray And Linda Faczan
70 Seven And Kor-Kee
There is a knack to visiting patients in hospitals. There are protocols that must be observed. Not even clowns can barge into a patient’s room without knocking and requesting permission to enter. And the clowns have to know about hospital procedures, too. For example, if a patient’s chart shows they are “NPO,” the clowns have to know that means “nothing by mouth” so that, if the patient asks for a glass of water, the clown will not unknowingly give it to them.

When visiting hospitals, Drs. Lauren Gitis and Gerri Attrix take fish stickers which they attach to a patient’s IV bag while announcing, “There, now you’ve got an aquarium.”

When not performing, these clowns are constantly working to improve their character, their costume and their craft. They continually develop new costumes, discover new props, learn new tricks and create new gags they can use to entertain.

Kor-Kee And 70 Seven Are Christian Clowns

The red dot that Kor-Kee and 70 Seven wear on their clown faces identify them as Christian clowns. They think of their clown service as their ministry in life. All of their gigs are family oriented but they are only religious if the group they are entertaining requests a religious message or theme.

Oh, what type of clowns are Kor-Kee and 70 Seven? If you guessed Auguste clowns, you are right.

Count The Acts Of Kindness

Acts of kindness are all around us, but they usually pass into history unnoticed, or at least unappreciated. Fortunately, the story I am about to tell you was saved on film for all of us to savor . . .

Nine-year-old Caine Monroy spent his summer vacation at his father’s Los Angeles auto parts store. To pass the time, the budding entrepreneur designed and built an elaborate arcade out of taped-together cardboard boxes.

Caine offered two ticket prices. For a $1 regular ticket, you could play 4 games. But for a $2 “Fun Pass,” you could play 500 times. Unfortunately, because the shop didn’t have many visitors, no one took Caine up on his offers.

Then, one day, filmmaker Nirvan Mullick happened into the shop because he needed a part for his old car. While he was there, Nirvan became Caine’s first customer.

But that was just the beginning of Nirvan’s kindness. He orchestrated an elaborate flash mob through Facebook and Reddit that brought a huge crowd to Caine’s arcade to play his games.

Nirvan captured all of this on an 11-minute film called “Caine’s Arcade.” He also created a website where visitors can contribute to a college fund for this Steve-Jobs-in-training. In less than one week, the fund had received commitments of more than $125,000!

Kindness: The Power Of Nice

Kindness:  The Power Of NiceAn act of kindness, generosity or compassion toward another person can change that person’s day or, occasionally, their entire life.

According to Leo Buscaglia, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

A kind act gives aid and a benefit to another. It is a favor, a courtesy, an act of charity.

Acts of kindness can be large, such as volunteering regularly for a non-profit, or small, like these everyday opportunities . . .

  • Smile at someone

  • Say “hello” to a stranger

  • Let someone have the better parking space

  • Give your seat to someone who needs it more

    Acts of kindness

  • Help someone get something that is out of their reach

  • Hold the door open for a stranger

  • Leave a really good tip

  • Visit a shut-in

  • Stop at the scene of a breakdown or accident to make sure everyone is all right.

  • Be courteous, say “please” and “thank you.”

Some consider kindness so powerful that they claim it as their guiding philosophy. The Dalai Lama has said that “There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.”

Kindness is best when it is truly an act of generosity, done without expecting anything in return. Ideally, you have kindness as one of your core values and you perform acts of kindness simply because it is the right thing to do.

However, as often is the case, doing right benefits you in unexpected ways. According to many scientific studies, acts of kindness can make you healthier, happier and more successful.

Let’s look at what the studies show about “the power of nice.” These are some of the ways you benefit from doing acts of kindness.

Kindness Makes You Happier

If you want to be happy, be kind.

Most of us know that from experience. When we do something kind, we feel better, happier.

A hug is an act of kindnessIt turns out that the kindness-happiness link has been proven by a number of studies.

For example, a 2008 study by scientists from the University of British Columbia showed that spending money on others was a sure-fire way to make yourself happier. The study found that those who spent the most money on others were the happiest and that those who spent the least were the least happy.

Another study, involving a sample of Japanese women, found that simply counting their acts of kindness made the participants happier. On top of that, 80% reported that the feelings stayed with them for hours and sometimes even days after their acts of kindness.

Kindness Makes You Healthier

Studies show that kindness actually makes you more healthy.

Allan Luks, the former executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Health and executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York City, studied kindness and documented his findings in his book, The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others.

Luks studied more than 3,000 volunteers of all ages at more than 20 organizations throughout the country. Based on his research, he saw a clear cause-and-effect relationship between helping and good health.

Kindness:  The Power Of NiceLuks’ concluded, “Helping contributes to the maintenance of good health, and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders both serious and minor, psychological and physical.”

There is even evidence that kindness helps you live longer. A 2005 study done in California discovered that frequent volunteers had a 33% lower risk of dying than people who did not do any volunteering and that people who volunteered sometimes had a 25% lower risk of death.

A 1999 study done by the Buck Center for Research in Aging, in California, found that those who volunteered for two or more different organizations had a 44% lower death rate than those who didn’t do any volunteering.

Kindness Makes You More Successful

Many studies have shown that happiness leads not only to a higher income but also to more energy, better health, a longer life span, a more satisfying social life, more confidence and a higher quality of work.

Most people believe that these things are what makes us happy, but most of the evidence suggests that it’s the other way around. When we feel happy, these things come to us much more easily. Happiness, studies show, comes first. And kindness promotes happiness.

Kindness Enhances Your Sense Of Well-Being

How you treat others affects your self-esteem and your sense of well-being.

Random Act of KindnessIn 2008, a study published by the UK Government Office for Science concluded that one of the 5 ways to mental well-being was to “give.” The report advised:

Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a a community group. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, as linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

Another 2008 study found that those who “volunteered my time,” “gave money to a person in need” or “listened carefully to another’s point of view” were happier, more satisfied with their lives and had a greater sense of well-being than those who “had sex purely to get pleasure,” “bought a new piece of jewelry or electronics equipment just for myself” or “went to a big party.”

A Surprising Benefit Of Kindness

Would you be surprised to learn that kindness makes you more attractive than good looks?

That is the conclusion of a large, international study which found that, in all cultures, when asked what they would most prefer in a mate, kindness was the number one quality for both men and women. It beat both good looks and financial prospects.

Pay It Forward

Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? It felt great, didn’t it? It made you feel valued and it may have restored your faith in humanity.

Why don’t you give that same gift to someone else today?

Volunteering In America

If I have a life philosophy that can be reduced to bumper sticker length, it is this: We’re all in this together.

Leave footprints by volunteeringOur differences are insignificant when compared to the things we have in common. Ultimately, almost all of us want the same things out of life: to succeed, have some fun, do some good and, if we’re lucky, leave footprints so someone will remember we were here.

One way many of us recognize our commonalities and our inter-dependence is through volunteering. I’ve written about this “secret” to a good life before, given you inspirational quotes about volunteering and even told you about research which shows that volunteers live longer!

Fascinating new statistics are out about volunteering in America. They come from the Corporation for National and Community Service which has released “Volunteering in America,” a detailed, multi-year report on volunteering trends and demographics.

Some of the most interesting findings are presented in this infographic.

Volunteering In America 2010

Who Else Wants To Trade A Couple Of Hours For A Lifelong Warm Glow?

Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels

I’ve delivered Meals on Wheels for more than 15 years.  I deliver around lunchtime on Friday and it takes about 2 ½ hours from the time I leave my office until I return.

As you probably know, Meals on Wheels is a volunteer program that delivers warm, nutritious meals to the (mostly elderly) homebound.

I had an experience recently which reminded me why I volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Let me tell you about it . . .

I rang the doorbell at Ms. B’s townhouse.  Because I had been delivering to her for several months, I knew that she is virtually blind and that, therefore, it takes her a while to get to the door.

So I waited patiently.  (Since I’m not known for my patience, developing it is a bonus benefit of this volunteer work.)

When Ms. B didn’t come to the door, I rang the door bell again – and knocked loudly too.

Still no answer.

I have Ms. B’s phone number on an index card that I carry in my car when I’m delivering, so I called her.  No answer.

I had a dozen other people waiting for hot meals, so I had to move on.  And I couldn’t leave Ms. B’s meal unattended outside her house.  It looked like Ms. B wasn’t going to get her meal.

But I had a hunch she was home, so I decided to make one more try. My index card had the phone number of one of her neighbors.  Sitting in my car, I started to dial the neighbor’s number.

As I was dialing, Ms. B finally appeared at the door. I yelled to her and ran back to her house.  She invited me in.

In the months that I had been delivering to Ms. B, she had been polite when I was at her house, but virtually expressionless.  She wasn’t talkative and didn’t reveal much about herself.

This time was different.

She had a big, bright smile that’s now embedded in my memory.  She told me that she had not come to the door sooner because she was a little disoriented and had not been able to find her way to the front door.

When she finally did locate the front door, she was so proud of herself.

She thanked me profusely for not leaving and told me how glad she was that she didn’t have to go without lunch.

Her smile was all the thanks I needed.

Infograhic: Online Charitable Donations Soaring

Internet Charitable Contributions
Internet Charitable Contributions

In 2009, Americans gave over $300 billion to charity.

The charities that received the most were: YMCA ($5.6 billion), United Way ($3.8 billion), Catholic Charities USA ($3.3 billion), Goodwill Industries ($3.2 billion) and The Salvation Army ($32. billion).

While online giving represented only about 5% of the total, it is rising rapidly — by a stunning 50% in the last two years.

The leading online beneficiaries include some organizations that are not on the list of top offline beneficiaries: American Cancer Society, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This suggests that they get it, that they understand the power of the Internet, particularly social media, as a force for social good.

For example, after the January 2010 earthquakes in Haiti, the American Red Cross raised $32 million in only a few months using a text messaging campaign.

And here’s the thing that I find most interesting. 19 out of every 20 people who contributed to Haitian earthquake relief by text messaging were first time contributors.

Something very powerful going on here. The Good Guys are learning how to reach large numbers of people, quickly and virtually for free, and to turn them into contributors —  often for the first time.

This information, and more, is shown well in the infographic that follows. (What’s an infographic? As the name implies, it’s a graphic representation of information. If it’s well done, it makes it easier for you to understand, find or do something.)

Social Good Infograhic
Social Good Infograhic

5 Ways To Be Happier

A study by statistician Nic Marks and his organization, the New Economics Foundation, found that you can increase your happiness by doing these 5 things . . .

    1. Connect with your loved ones and build strong social relationships.

    2. Be physically active.

    3. Be aware of the world around you, locally and globally.

    4. Engage your curiosity and keep learning your whole life.

    5. Give. Donate money or time to others.

Actually, these findings were part of a presentation Marks made on the need for countries to increase the well-being and happiness of its citizens without doing environmental damage.

Marks’ statistics show that the countries of the world are becoming less efficient at using the earth’s resources. That is, the use of the earth’s resources is increasing much faster than is our well-being.

The goal of countries, says Marks, should be to increase the well-being and happiness of its citizens in an earth-friendly way.

Right now, one country is doing that better than the others.

Is it the United States? No. Great Britain? No. Another Western country? Nope. How about some super-rich Gulf State? No, again.

The country that is providing the most well-being and happiness with the least environmental cost is . . .

Costa Rica.

According to a recent Gallup poll, Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world. And they achieved this distinction while using about 1/4 of the earth’s resources that the U.S. and other Western nations use.

Perhaps the key is that environmental friendliness is policy in Costa Rica which has a declared goal of being carbon neutral by 2021. Already, 99% of Costa Rica’s electricity comes from renewable sources.

Very interesting, don’t you think?

Studies Prove Volunteers Live Longer

Volunteers live longer!

This is one of the findings of a research study called “The Health Benefits of Volunteering” which was done in 2007 by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

According to the study, a growing body of research indicates that volunteering provides not just social benefits, but also individual health benefits for the volunteers.

These are some of the study’s most compelling conclusions . . .

    1.  The health benefits are greater for older volunteers (over 60) than for younger volunteers.

    2.  Benefits include improved physical and mental health and greater life satisfaction.

    3. There is a “volunteering threshold” for health benefits. That is to say, a minimum amount of volunteering is required to derive health benefits from the volunteer activities.  Interestingly, however, once that threshold is met, no additional health benefits result from volunteering more. (The definition of considerable volunteering has been variously defined by these studies as 1) volunteering with two or more organizations; 2) 100 hours or more of volunteer activities per year; and 3) at least 40 hours of volunteering per year.)

    4. When patients with chronic or serious illness volunteer, they receive benefits beyond what can be achieved through medical care.  That’s stunning!

    5. Volunteers have lower rates of depression.

The evidence is clear.  Volunteers live longer and more healthy lives.

You can read the study here.