Even those who didn't say it showed me that material things mattered more than happiness: they worked jobs they hated where they didn't contribute anything worthwhile to society, but hey, they had new cars and big TV's out of the deal.
I came up with Tampa Do-Gooder over a year and a half ago so I could focus on that giving side of myself and others, and I'm still surprised when I come across true do-gooders. I may have the heart and the desire, but I spend more energy frustrated and not knowing how I can best help than actually doing. Intentions are great motivators but they fade like dreams when you fail to act upon them.
I look up to those who are doers. In 2003 Todd Gitlin wrote Letters to a Young Activist, but the book found its way into my hands just last week. I already knew that I'm on the right path for myself, but when his words congratulated me for having left "the path of least resistance" I was reminded that I'm not on a new path, nor am I on it alone.
"Facing the world's travails, you aren't content to stop at taking notice or bearing witness. You aren't satisfied to deplore, weep or yell. Your response to the day's bad news is not, Isn't that awful? but What am I - what are we-going to about that?"
Another great do-gooder I recently came across is Victoria Hale, a chemist profiled this month in The Scientist, who started a nonprofit drug company in 2000 to "make drugs for all of humanity—drugs that don’t necessarily pull a profit."
This was all news to me, but after a quick search I saw that she was one of Glamour's Women of the Year in 2007 and NBC's John Larson also made a Making a Difference segment out of her story:
Now this is the kind of gal I'd like to see strutting down red carpets, accepting fancy awards, and having little girls dream of wanting to be like when they grow up.