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The Most Valuable Gift You Can Give This Holiday Season

Giving back to the community and others is something near and dear to my heart. I grew up poor, the youngest of four children, and we were raised by my hard-working single mother. She worked long hours as a line cook. My mom worked hard, but we rarely had enough money for food. I can remember one time when we were utterly without money or food, my mom took a few potatoes from the restaurant. Vowing to return them later she turned them into potato soup, and that’s all we ate for an entire week. My mom then said something to me that has stuck with me for my entire life:

“Dwayne, no matter what you do, don’t ever forget where you came from and that you had to eat potato soup every day for a week. When you have employees, be there for them, and they will always be there for you.”

I never forgot.

I vowed to honor my mother and what she taught me. This is why today, I support more than 70 local and global charities and have founded four of my own.

The Potato Soup Foundation is a non-profit serving the needs of Aegis Living line staff and their families during times of crisis. The Foundation has helped with emergency medical treatment, emergency housing, funeral expenses, and a variety of other crisis situations.

Mentoring underprivileged youth is especially important to me, which is why I created the D-ONE Foundation. I work with young athletes who are on the path to play Division I sports as well as mentoring those who have moved onto college, answering their questions and providing unbiased opinions about anything they ask, from home life to finances and contracts.

The Queen Bee Café is a crumpet shop based in Seattle, named in honor of the original Queen Bee, my mom Colleen. One hundred percent of profits from all the locations are donated to local charities, with past donations supporting the YMCA, The Boys & Girls Clubs, and the Gay Seattle Business Association Scholarship Fund.

The Clark Family Foundation was founded to care for the most vulnerable people in society, with the major focus being on elderly and children. Earlier this year, we raised over $300,000 for two partner charities who remained open and serving the homeless and homebound seniors across Seattle during the outbreak, as many charities and services were forced to shutter their doors.

The Bigger Picture

In my previous blog, I talked about being of service to others. When you are of service to others, often you realize that the most important things you have to offer are not things at all. Sometimes what you have to offer, such as your time, presence, and attention, comes from a place much deeper than the material.

The holiday season is a season of giving. But this holiday season is unique, to say the least. We are in uncharted territory. Giving back doesn’t necessarily have to mean giving gifts in the traditional sense. I would like to discuss some ways you can give back this season that are as unique as our current situation. To quote physician and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, “One thing I know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”

Think of a cause, issue or person that is important to you. What sparks a fire in your heart? Brainstorm some ways that you can contribute and make a difference. Monetary giving is always helpful, but in what other ways can you give back that offer you a sense of fulfillment to bring your giving full circle?

I think it’s important to mention that big problems don’t necessarily mean big solutions. Sometimes a small change can help in a big way. Consider doing 50 percent of your holiday shopping at small businesses in your area this season. If only 25 percent of consumers made this change, it would impact the small business community in a big way! And when a business is thriving, it helps to create jobs contributing to community stability. Local business owners also tend to be more civic-minded and are more likely to sponsor a local sports team or volunteer with local charities.

This brings me to your neighbors and those closest to you. That elderly neighbor you see in passing, or the work-from-home single mom that lives down the street; what can you do that would be meaningful to help them this season? Many times, the elderly community is overlooked. Reaching out and making that connection is a powerful gesture. But let’s take it a step further by exploring acts of service like shoveling snow off their driveway, picking up groceries, walking their pet, or offering to help with holiday decorations. These are all small solutions that can make a huge impact.

It’s important to take care of yourself, so you can live a happier and healthier life. Grab a copy of my latest bestseller, 30 Summers More, and get on the right track to a long, healthy, and fulfilling life! 

Many seniors are dealing with loneliness due to a lack of face-to-face contact. Technology can keep us connected never before. Keeping in touch is easier than ever using WhatsApp, FaceTime, or Zoom to check-in with loved ones. Being creative and keeping our minds stimulated is essential. You could create a virtual book club and choose something you both want to read and discuss weekly via Zoom. Selecting a recipe and cooking a meal together over a Zoom call is another way to engage and ensure seniors get a healthy and delicious meal. Having something to look forward to and structure can help emotional health during these uncertain times, and adaptation is critical.

We need to look out for each other more than ever, and your presence and attention are the most precious commodities you can offer someone. Look at the bigger picture and consider what you have to offer. Then think even bigger!

Until next time, Wellness Warriors, Live Well, Live Long!



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