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Stutzman: What can you do for NE Michigan?

January 2, 2012
Mary Beth Stutzman - Inspiring A-Town , The Alpena News

I suppose I should say a word or two about New Year's Resolutions since it's that time of year. Many of us make broad resolutions to be healthier, or spend more time with our families. Some make specific commitments to stop smoking or finish ongoing home improvement projects. Some we keep, some we forget about by February, and some we abandon when the sun warms us up in May. Let's do something different this year. What do you think about a resolution we can all accomplish, all while making the world a better place? Let's make an Inspiring A-Town resolution. To begin, answer this question:

What have you done for Northeast Michigan lately?

If you can't think of an answer or aren't sure what I'm asking then this resolution is for you. Have you given anything to your community recently? I'm not just talking about donating money (although there are many deserving local charities); and I'm not just talking about volunteering (while there are many worthy causes and organizations that need our help). I'm also not talking about donating a kidney, unless you know of someone who needs one and are a compatible match. What I'm talking about is something that digs deeper. I'm talking about giving a piece of yourself to improve the community you live in.

First off, let's take recognition and admiration off the table. If you're doing nice things in hopes of being awarded or revered then you're doing them for the wrong reasons. Once that's out of the way let's all take a moment to think about what makes each of us unique. You have a special skill or talent that you can do better than anyone else. Yes you do. It's part of what makes you, YOU. For some it's a great singing voice, a knack with fixing things, or a love of baking. For others it's a passion for history, a talent with ice skating, or an ability to make people laugh. We all have something.

After you really think about your unique ability or talent you can move on to the next level. How can you share this with the community? By this I don't necessarily mean to give everyone in the entire six-county region singing lessons. But what could you do for a few people over the next 12 months?

A few years ago my husband and I had our taxes done by a local CPA. We didn't make out very well. We were newly married with a baby on the way, I had recently changed jobs, and it was the first year we were filing together. We ended up owing thousands. We didn't have thousands in the bank to pay the amount so we had to set up a payment plan with the IRS. It was devastating. Worst. Tax. Year. Ever.

To our surprise the CPA donated her services and in return allowed us to trade for the service of some of our talents. It was a huge relief and saved us from temporary hardship. We have been forever grateful and I remember this every time I think of ways to make the community better. It's the little things that matter the most. It's not just the big flashy things you read about in the media that make a difference. It's the hundreds of small things that people do for each other every day that have the greatest long-lasting impact and we can all jump on board.

Let's change our world starting right here in Northeast Michigan. Start by turning the question "What have you done for Northeast Michigan lately?" into an action statement.

This year I will _________ for the betterment of my community.

Fill in the blank with a talent or skill you can offer someone (or many people) in the community. Cut this column out and put it on your refrigerator as a constant reminder that you can and will do your part to change the world. Tell your family and friends what you are doing to keep yourself accountable. Giving a piece of yourself to improve the world is a noble act that will outlive you. If we all make a conscious effort to share even just one positive action for our community at some point over the next 12 months, imagine what amazing things could transpire!

Mary Beth Stutzman's Inspiring A-Town column appears bi-weekly on Tuesdays.



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