Every morning I wake up bright and early and read the news. This has long been my routine - my quiet time, when the house is still, and the sun is spreading liquid gold all over the world around me. I have grown used to sitting in a favorite chair, sipping cappuccino, and learning what journalists yesterday deemed important enough to include in the 'news' today.

Ahh. But reading the news has become almost a torture. The economic situation has shattered many lives. Fortunes have been lost. People who never dreamed their savings and retirement nest-eggs would vanish prematurely, are facing hard realities, with few options. People who were already in fragile circumstances are facing uncertain futures, and are even more marginalized now than they were before. My heart beats too fast when I read sad stories about loss and helplessness -- I can feel the stress just thinking about it. What can I do!

All of the charitable organizations I support have felt the pinch - well, it's much more than a 'pinch.' it's more like a strangle-hold that threatens to cut off the air supply. But the problems of today are flowing out beyond the organizations I support...the catastrophe has spread to people I know. Now, I realize, more than ever, is when we need to step up. Not only to talk the talk about charitable service, and giving back to society, but actually walking the walk.

This became crystal clear when one of my girlfriends sent me an email. I could tell that it had taken her weeks of worry before she sent it - it was perhaps one of her saddest, most humiliating moments, yet she was out of ideas. This story may be familiar to some of you, but nevertheless, difficult to absorb -- hard, in some ways, even to imagine. I think it illustrates how close to the edge many in our midst are living.

Before the economic downturn, this particular girlfriend was happily taking classes for her doctorate. She is a hands-on mom, and had been out of the traditional workforce for many years. But her email conveyed a devastating turn of events. Her husband lost his job, and prospects, at least at the moment, are dim. She is the main caregiver for her aging, ailing mom - and spends a couple of days a week sitting with her mom while she endures dialysis. Her college-age children work hard, but are not totally self-sufficient. It took an enormous amount of courage for her to reach out to me for help. She needed a job, and wondered if I could help her find one.

Her story made me cry. She and her husband had already blown through their savings, couldn't afford their mortgage, and were in the process of packing up to move out. It was a drastic reversal of fortune that had basically brought them to their knees. I was stunned.

I immediately did what she asked. I enlisted my husband, and together, we're doing what we can to help her search for a position.

I offer this personal story as a reminder that we shouldn't take anything for granted. People within your own circle-of-life may be suffering and need help. Be aware of those you interact with. Realize it's not always easy for individuals to reach out and ask for assistance, and be open-minded and compassionate when they do.

Even if you can't fix their problem, there may be something you can do, someone you know who is looking for an employee with a particular set of skills, or has resources that can be utilized. For sure, you can offer friendship and emotional support. It does take a village.

The idea that charity begins at home rings poignantly true for me now. This is very close to home.

Author's Bio: 

Intent.com is a premier wellness site and supportive social network where like-minded individuals can connect and support each others' intentions. Founded by Deepak Chopra's daughter Mallika Chopra, Intent.com aims to be the most trusted and comprehensive wellness destination featuring a supportive community of members, blogs from top wellness experts and curated online content relating to Personal, Social, Global and Spiritual wellness.