By Jen Maxfield, NBC-NY reporter, mom of Maine campers, philanthropist
Every Friday night, we go around the Shabbat table and take turns describing a mitzvah that we did that week. When my daughter was in preschool, she would say things like, “I helped my friend zip her jacket,” or, “I held the door open for Grandma.” Now, in elementary school, my daughter will describe donating clothes for hurricane victims and visiting her great-grandfather, and my son will mention assembling afterschool snack bags for children in our community. My husband and I tell our children about our mitzvahs too: mentoring young professionals, helping send bright students to college, and serving meals to people in need.
This weekly ritual, of remembering what we have done to help other people, has revealed how much we all enjoy stepping out of our own concerns to lend a hand. Marian Wright Edelman said, “service is the rent we pay for living,” and we have certainly found that the joy and satisfaction we get out of helping other people is worth far more than anything we’ve ever given away. When we were selecting a summer camp for our children, it was important that we found a camp that mirrored our values. And we have certainly found that in Maine.
I’ve been working as a TV news reporter for 18 years, telling thousands of stories about people’s triumphs and their tragedies. Being welcomed into people’s homes and being entrusted with their stories is a privilege. I have a unique perspective, having seen the challenges that people are facing and knowing that a little help goes a long way. I also have seen how truly alone people can feel in their time of need.
I can remember going into a woman’s apartment in Northern New Jersey right before Thanksgiving. Her refrigerator had just a few items inside and she was planning to eat pasta on Thanksgiving. Hearing that broke my heart. We made sure she had a real Thanksgiving meal. She was just one of the 3200 recipients of Thanksgiving meal baskets from the Center for Food Action. It takes an army of volunteers to assemble all of the trimmings, and my children and I are always happy to be among them.
After Superstorm Sandy ravaged our community in 2012, I reported on a story in Staten Island where a family had no heat and their young daughter was sick, exacerbated by living in a home where the indoor temperature was 56 degrees. By the next morning, an HVAC contractor from our community who saw the story had donated a new boiler and installed it for free. Closer to home, my son and I volunteered at a local church, distributing food and essential cleaning supplies. He had just turned 6, and could barely reach inside some of the trunks of the cars, but he loaded those paper towels inside. Five years later, after Hurricane Harvey forced our family friends in Texas out of their home, my daughters and I shopped for new clothes for all of their children. It’s natural to feel helpless when we see other people suffering, but we have found great purpose by getting involved.
In education today, we are talking a lot about a “growth mindset,” Carol Dweck’s theory that focusing on accomplishments and natural ability is counterproductive, and that people perform best when they are flexible, willing to improve, and adjust to change. On this Giving Tuesday, I hope we can all approach societal challenges with a “giving mindset”— open to helping other people and not looking away and waiting for someone else to solve the problem. It’s an opportunity to come together as a family and a community to make someone else’s day a little brighter and show them they’re not alone.
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.