I want to make a difference in the lives of others. It’s something I feel I was born to do. I have been very blessed in my life and I enjoy sharing that with others. I believe making a difference begins in our communities. It starts on the local level. There is something we all could do to give back, whether that be giving of our time, talent, or treasure.
Helping others offers a feeling in return that you just can’t put a price on. Through my Franci Neely Foundation, I have been able to support more than 100 different causes, and each year, I am exploring more ways I can help in a more concentrated way. I think it’s essential to give back to organizations that are making a positive change in the world.
When you volunteer or support an organization, you never really know the full impact you’re having in the lives of others. I had the opportunity to donate carts full of clothing, toys, and other essential items to families a year after Hurricane Harvey tore through the Houston area. Whenever I am having a tough day, I think back to that particular day and my heart immediately fills with gratitude and joy. I remember the smiles on their faces and the hugs I received that day from the most precious families.
It’s rare in life when you get to see the influence you can have on others, and it still makes me smile when I think about standing in that Target store at holiday time surrounded by so much love. Some of my relatives took part in helping the families pick out items that day.
I think so many of us think just one person can’t make a difference, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Imagine if all of us did something kind for someone else, the tidal wave of positivity that would have?
We all have so much more of an influence than any of us realize and it’s important to keep that in perspective. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to so many countries and whether I’m standing in a lush tropical landscape in Fiji or a palace in Saudi Arabia, I’ve learned that everyone, everywhere, is essentially the same and shares many of the same thoughts and emotions. We really all have so much more in common than we realize — and we realize that when we sit down with people from other cultures and perspectives. That’s one of the reasons I feel travel is the finest education one can acquire.
Sure, you can gain knowledge from books but there’s nothing like standing there in person, experiencing what’s in the book right before your very eyes, taking in all the sights, scents, and sounds.
I often think of the night I was alone in Manhattan attempting to grab a cab when someone was making me feel super uncomfortable. A benevolent man came by on a bicycle and waited with me until an Uber arrived. While I didn’t have money on me at the time, I insisted on taking the man’s contact information and sent him a check to thank him for his random act of kindness when he waited with me that night. I later learned that the man used the funds to pay for medical care for his mother. I often think I was meant to be in that exact place that evening so I could actually be of assistance to him. He thought he was helping me that night, but knowing I was able to be there for him and mom is truly the gift that keeps giving.