Kelsey photo

Kelsey Hoeper, Elyssa’s Mission Volunteer

Let me first start by listing a few things I’ve seen/heard/read in the last 24 hours:

•More than 2,300 shootings took place in the city of Chicago in the last year.
•In anger, a man intentionally lit an apartment complex on fire, killing three young girls and leaving behind a devastated mother and father.
•Funding continues to dwindle for much-needed services in the areas of substance abuse, domestic violence, adequate housing, homelessness, sexual assault and more.
•Campus sexual assault cases continue to rise—especially during what reporters have been calling “the red zone”—the time between the start of the semester through Thanksgiving break, with freshmen women being particularly vulnerable.
•A friend posted on his Facebook wall with this one sentence: “I look around me and I don’t know where I am anymore…..”

We live in a chaotic world. Nothing is promised to us, nothing can be predicted. We see these images on our televisions and phone screens, of grieving mothers, abandoned children, black and smoky skies. We feel the initial sting. We empathize as much as we can, but then we are transported back into the center of our lives: sipping our lattes, doing homework, paying the bills, grocery shopping for our families, having sleepovers with our friends. I don’t blame them. I do it, too. In fact, we all do. We live for normalcy, even if it lasts for only a few moments. Nevertheless, we often feel hopeless. We think about our futures, and the futures of our children. It is not surprising that people of all ages feel this weight, and we are left wondering, what can we do? What can we do to ease the strain?

Get involved
You can find incredible fulfilment in helping others, whether it’s through tutoring, mentoring, or simply taking time out of your day to spend time with someone. At the end of the day, every single one of us wants to feel worthwhile, valuable and a part of something bigger than ourselves. We need love and acceptance. We need to know that others care for us.

Be “going somewhere”
Find a path that speaks to you. Follow a vision that leads. This path doesn’t need to go straight. There can be changes along the way. Embrace the journey.

Be thankful
Take the time to count your blessings, no matter how small they are.

Take care of yourself
Self-care is the best thing you can do for yourself. It keeps you clear-headed, alert and motivated. You can do more for others when you pay attention to your personal well-being.

Challenge yourself
If you’re upset and angry, channel that into something good. Find a cause that speaks to you. Help change laws; change what needs to be changed. Move outside of yourself.

Be with and be for those around you
We need each other. We are all that we have. You are all you will ever be.