‘Tis the Season to be Giving

CityOf.com highlights three nonprofit organizations that exemplify what it means to give the gift of giving.

By: Sylvia Slezak

With the holiday season around the corner, the pressure of gift giving is on many minds. Somewhere along the way, we lost the true meaning and measure of giving, and it has become big business in North America with gifts that won’t even be used.

The actual definition of a “gift” is the transfer of something without the expectation of payment. Although gift giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free. The term, “gift,” can refer to anything that makes the other happier or less sad, especially as a favor, including forgiveness and kindness.

Psychologists, anthropologists, economists and marketers have found that giving gifts is a surprisingly complex and important part of human interaction, helping define relationships and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Indeed, psychologists say it is often the giver, rather than the recipient, who reaps the biggest psychological gains from a gift.

At a time when there is much focus on gift giving this season, we wish to spotlight three nonprofit organizations in the Coastal Bend community that have generosity at the core of their mission. They truly have the gift of giving.

1. CityOfAgape
The impact of a Bible in one’s hand is immeasurable. It can change an attitude or save a life. It can instruct and inspire. The Word lifts the spirit, encourages the heart and renews the mind. “To provide the Word of God through a beautiful, burgundy hardbound Bible – free of charge” is the mission of CityOfAgape.

Individuals, churches, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and inner-city organizations can receive their own Bible from CityofAgape as a gift. Each Bible includes a list of passages for celebrating a marriage or graduation, overcoming pride, experiencing anxiety, depression, loneliness or doubt and finding hope through God’s forgiveness.

“We feel privileged in helping spread this message and are thankful for every opportunity to do so,” said John Doherty, founder and president emeritus. “We pray for God’s help and guidance to make this happen.”

On their website at cityofagape.org, you will find daily Bible readings and reflections to meditate on the Word of God, and words of encouragement to lift the spirit, encourage the heart and renew the mind through inspirational blog posts.

2. West Side Helping Hand
Too many Corpus Christi residents live under the poverty line, leaving many children in the state of crisis facing abuse, neglect and an uncertain future. West Side Helping Hand gives a helping hand to underprivileged children (grades 2-7), and a chance for a better life. West Side Helping Hand also reaches out to the parents and the grandparents so that the entire family can have the tools to live successful lives.

The development programs embrace the dignity of the person by focusing on academics, character development, job training, a lifelong love for physical activity, individual attention and parental engagement.

West Side Helping Hand’s vision is rooted in practical, real-life wants and needs. It reflects a high ideal of love and hope: the hope for a highly desirable future for our youth that will bring out the best in themselves, their families and our community. The goal is to provide an educated workforce for the Coastal Bend, having the kids stay in the city and revitalize the west side.

3. The Ark Assessment Center & Emergency Shelter for Youth
The Ark, a non-denominational facility, began as a project of the Missionary Sisters of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The sisters started serving youth in 1971 with the establishment of the New Life prevention program for girls, followed by the Turnaround prevention program for boys.

Delma Trejo, administrator of the prevention programs, realized youth needed a comprehensive program that would not be limited to the weekends. The Diocese of Corpus Christi deeded 5 acres of land for the project, named “The Ark,” which could be the children’s salvation just as it was for Noah’s family.

The Ark’s mission is to provide a caring intervention for abused, neglected and displaced children and youth, ages 0-17, by placing them in a secure environment. The Ark is committed to demonstrating to these innocent victims that even though they have been mistreated by their parents or guardians, there are people in this Coastal Bend community who are ready to treat them with dignity, love and respect.

This season of giving is a time to experience what it means to give and receive. Go ahead: Spread more joy, and enjoy your gift of giving. Until next time, we wish you all the best on your journey through this holiday season and through life.

Sylvia Slezak is the director of marketing and social media at www.cityof.com. For more information, visit us online at www.cityof.com to find local premier businesses, restaurants, events, attractions and more.