Hello December 2021! With just one more month left of the year and “Giving Tuesday” has begun, what’s on your giving list? Instead of getting caught up in the frenzy of presents to buy, it’s a good time of year to also think about giving from your heart. 

I think we can all agree that we are ready to put the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 behind us. But the question is – what has it taught us? I know for me and many of my friends it has been a reminder that we are all in fact connected. The ripple effect is indeed real and can have a potent effect, whether positive or negative. 

The same is true about the act of giving. Science has shown us that there is a similar contagious effect when we give – a kind of ripple that can extend out 3x beyond that one degree away. 

Powerful, right?!

The act of generosity can be the giving of your time,  

emotional availability, money, attention, encouragement, support, possessions and much more. 

The Greater Good Magazine (published by The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley), wrote about a study on when just one person behaves generously. 


“[the study] shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. ‘As a result,’ they write, ‘each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.’” (By James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science). 


Take a moment right now to think about the people who might be in need, just in our own communities. 

Now, more than ever we are being reminded of people living on the streets, no matter what the reason is – it is happening and it effects all of us, especially those who go without food or shelter during the cold winter months and all year round. 


Michelle at the front desk thought of a great idea for our Urban Office Community members – an invitation to participate in a clothing drive for the houseless. You can drop clothing off at the front desk if you would like to give in that generous way. It’s a great time to go through your closet and gather some warm socks, gloves, hats, fleece, blankets – anything that could help someone feel comforted, especially during this time of year when memories of feeling safe could be hard and difficult for some people. 


Giving Tuesday has been a popular trend that has been happening during this time too. There are so many wonderful causes to contribute to and give your time as a volunteer. 


Here is a list of organizations in Portland that make it easy to know what they actually need right now: https://www.handsonportland.org/holiday_volunteering

We have several board members as UO members who support Project Lemonade. You can see their photo displayed up on the wall in the kitchen. It’s a wonderful organization that inspires self-esteem in foster youth. 

Also, our beloved UO member (who is located both upstairs and downstairs in Pawffic) Bridge Meadows 

develops and sustains intentional, intergenerational communities for youth formerly in foster care, adoptive families, and elders, building place, permanence, and shared social purpose one community at a time. They are a special organization that is making a significant impact in our region. 

Lastly, one more giving idea for you -- if you purchase a holiday gift for a foster youth in our community, Multnomah county youth will be invited to choose a gift at our holiday event. See the front desk for more details. 

How to make the most out of the holidays and stay connected to your own heart. 

Have you ever gotten to a moment of overwhelm trying to get everything done? Your holiday menus, volunteering, managing family engagements, clients and the list goes on. No one can relate, right?! 

One thing I’ve been practicing is a technique from The Heartmath Institute that I learned from my dear friend Sheva Carr (The Fyera Foundation, Founding CEO of Heart Ambassadors, UN delegate leader for Pathways to Peace, Co-Director of Heartmath Healthcare). It’s an easy way to stop, take a moment to re-center yourself in the midst of any type of stress. It’s a quick technique and it can take just 1 minute of your time. I think everyone can spare 1 minute!

Heartmath Coherence easily creates a state of heart coherence by helping you tap into your heart and slow everything down. When you are in a coherent state of awareness, your thoughts and emotions become balanced and you experience a sense of ease and inner harmony. 

When we can take a moment to “renew emotions” lots of things shift in the body and it works!

According to The Heartmath Institute, emotions and attitudes such as care and gratitude change over 1400 things in our physiology, creating neurochemicals that regenerate your system and offset energy drain, resulting in increased longevity, resilience to adversity, improved memory and problem – solving, increased intuition and creativity and improved job performance and achievement. 

“When we focus our attention in the heart, breathing in appreciation and out appreciation, we’re giving energy to our system that makes more with it – this is how the human system recharges,” states Sheva Carr. 

The holidays are a beautiful time to access more giving, appreciation and gratitude. 

According to Psychology Today, the act of giving may increase the brain’s levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that can give us a “high” that has to do with motivation and reward. Studies show that giving to others can help boost your confidence, self-esteem and contribute to the quality of the meaning of your life and sense of purpose. 

What you can do to start a ripple of giving to strangers and help put a smile on someone’s face or just feel good about contributing in a way that will help send that positive ripple out: 

  • Pick up 5-10 pieces of trash on the ground

  • Pay for the person behind you in the grocery line

  • Pay the toll for the car behind you

  • Write a hand written thank you note to someone 

So, as you start to get into the holiday spirit, light your Chanukah candles, put up your Christmas tree or enjoy whatever holiday your tradition is, try and stay present to the giving of your time, along with the presents. Before you get caught up in the hustle and bustle, take a moment to connect with your own heart and breath in the appreciation for yourself, everything you do and remember that the ripple effect of even giving a smile or wishing someone a warm genuine hello and happy holidays really does go a long way…3 degrees away in fact. 


Lisa Schneiderman is a UO member who helps people raise awareness for causes and positive messages that uplift humanity to a higher state of being.