What Is Your “Helping Others” Passion?

February is a month many people associate with love and passion, so I decided to talk about how we show love to others – with words and actions.

A few weeks ago, I was honored to be selected as a local TV station’s “everyday hero” on behalf of the Adult Literacy League (see the 1-minute video, below). Realizing that I had been tutoring adult literacy students for over 30 years, I thought back to an experience I had with one of my very first students. I was 36; she was 50. Pulled out of school so she could help her family work on the farm, she had missed a lot of school and now, wanted to learn how to read better. We met weekly from 6:30 to 7:30pm; we had met about 5 or 6 times already. I was sitting at my office desk at 6pm. It had been a long, rather stressful workday, I was tired, had cramps, and didn’t feel that I had any more energy. I thought about calling her to cancel, but realized that it was too late, so I would go to class.

When I walked into the classroom, I saw a few other students sitting with their tutors, and I saw my student sitting, waiting for me. We greeted each other, I sat down, and opened my book to start class. She stopped me. “I want you to know something. Last night, I woke up and thanked God that you were my tutor.” Well! That stopped me.

Even I, who is often obtuse, realized that this was a sign. Then and there, I made a promise that I would never cancel class just because I was tired. Even though I didn’t think that what I was doing was a big deal, I learned that evening that, to someone who is lost and needing and wanting help, what I was doing WAS a big deal – that I was a positive life changer.

My passion is to help others understand American English, but helping others isn’t just about teaching with words. Actions are just as important. They could be holding the door for someone, smiling or nodding at a passing pedestrian, showing a kid how to ride a bike or sew a button, giving a friend a hug. Our actions can make a big difference at just the moment when that support is needed.

What is your “helping others” passion?


To donate to the Adult Literacy League, go to: HOME – Adult Literacy League. Thank you! 🤗

17 thoughts on “What Is Your “Helping Others” Passion?”

  1. What a legacy you are leaving that will be passed on to generations! What I love most of all about your tutoring ESL students is your unbridled passion for their learning. It is infectious!

    My active passion for helping others has been in education and career development. Anyway I can make myself available to people striving for growth, I try to make time to help.

    My ‘passive’ passion for helping others is in finding a way to shine a positive light on life, often with humor. I’ve consciously developed that perspective since my early 20s and my introduction to Buddhism. Practicing Buddhism for 35 years now, I feel that bringing a little positivity and peace to others as we share this journey is more important now, than ever, as the world continues to change so rapidly. People from all walks of life regularly tell me they appreciate the peace I share. This inspires me to give a kind word or smile whenever I can, and pushes me through those days where things may be a little tougher than others.

  2. Cindi, what amazing comments and a big thank you for your describing my efforts. It is, indeed, a passion. I can’t stand it when other people do not understand words, not because they can’t but because they have not learned them in the past. I’ll never forget John’s comment when I asked him to tell me what a word meant – he said one thing and I explained that the definition he gave me was for a word that sounded the same but was spelled differently (and, therefore, meant something different). His reaction was priceless and forever meaningful to me – “That’s what that word is?” Ah. The joy of passing on knowledge. Too rewarding to describe.

    I am very interested in your perspective about Buddhism! Positivity and peace – yes, please! Let’s discuss when next we meet.

    Thank you, as always, for commenting on my posts and being such a great friend ☺🤗🥰

  3. I have been a witness to Barbara’s wonderful work with the Adult Literacy League and I also agree that the organization is impactful in people’s lives. One day, I hope to join Barbara in volunteering, but in the mean time, I know my donations also make a difference. They are very good stewards with their money and I appreciate it going to such a great organization.

    Barbara, thank you for sharing the news clip.

    You’ve always been a title hero!

    • Thank you, Mary Pat! I appreciate the many years that you have supported ALL (and me 😊). I also appreciate your contributing to the comments!

  4. Lovely post 🙂

    I brag to my friends sometimes about how generous you are with your time and energy to help others. Happy we had the pleasure of meeting one of your students and hope to meet more in the future. I really enjoyed this point: “I made a promise that I would never cancel class just because I was tired.” Sometimes I’m tired and don’t want to do xyz task or commitment, but when I overcome that lethargy, I am happy I chose to follow through rather than sitting out.

    • Thank you, Eric, for your positive comments. I like your thought about being glad that you choose to follow through rather than sitting out. It’s a lot easier to sit than act, but when the recipients of our actions are so incredibly grateful, I realize that I have enough time to sit. Spending an hour a week with a student really isn’t that difficult, when I think about it.
      An extra benefit? My students have become some of my best friends!!

  5. Beautiful post, Barb! I’ll admit that after a tiring day of work, I’ve often had the same thoughts about canceling my Thursday evening class, but every single time I remind myself that I always leave my class better than when I entered. I may be giving my time during that hour and a half, but my students give me far more by allowing me to be a part of their educational journey. Thanks to them, I am always striving to be a better person than I was yesterday. How special is that? What a blessing it is to be a part of an adult learner’s story. I know you know the feeling. <3

    • Peyton, thank you for your comments. People don’t usually energize me, but my students do! Teaching and learning at the same time – a blessing, indeed.

  6. Well deserved, Barbara! Thank you for teaching the skill of reading to adults.

    I believe to learn to read as an adult is one of the most difficult things to do. Often times there are financial challenges, lack of familial support, emotional heartaches or unjust reasons that causes someone to loose the opportunity to learn to read as a child. Therefore, the adult that learns to read will also have to unpack or overcome the trauma or objectives that caused them to pursue reading later in life. Each Adult learner is extremely courageous, brave and vulnerable by seeking help and each adult learner shares the “hero award” along with Barbara.

    Barbara and the Adult Literacy League, provide adult learners a trusted and safe place to learn and become a proficient reader. As a daughter of an adult learner, I have witnessed first hand how Barbara’s commitment to increasing my father’s reading level has increased his confidence to accomplish a life long dream of writing a book. Barbara, thank you for your unwavering care and passion for helping others.

    • I LOVE this statement: “Each Adult learner is extremely courageous, brave and vulnerable by seeking help and each adult learner shares the “hero award” along with Barbara.” Your father (and mother 🙂 are very special to me.
      Thank you so much for commenting!

  7. Barbara, to answer the question of what is my helping others passion? My dynamic parents have always taught us the value of serving others. Throughout my life I’ve tried to follow their example and have done so in various capacities. As the founder of Blue Victory Travel, a boutique travel agency, I aim to bridge the gap between charitable and profit-driven entities by donating 10% percent of our eligible service fees to non-profit organizations working to improve communities around the world. I firmly believe that traveling is an excellent way to bring hope and happiness to our lives, and I am passionate about providing immersive and unparalleled travel experiences to my clients.

    • Mary Ann, what a great idea about using your business to help others. And I agree about traveling. The perspective we learn by “being there” is so much different (and more accurate) than just reading about a place.

    • This is awesome! It seems our younger generation is leading the way in combining for-profit endeavors with meaningful ways to give back to not-for-profit causes they are passionate about.

      With just a little intention, we can all find small, and not so small, ways to give through our daily works. Your story is a good lesson for us all!

  8. Barbara is being humble! As Program Manager at the Adult Literacy League, I have the privilege of watching first-hand as Barbara engages three of her students each week. She is always patient and models a curiosity that proves there is always more to learn – for ALL of us!
    We can’t all be like Barbara, tutoring multiple students at a time – but many of us can carve out one hour a week to make a life-changing difference in just one person’s life! If Barbara’s story has piqued your interest, I would love to share more about the tutoring journey with you!

    • Bronwen, you make a tutor’s experience SO much easier, always answering questions (and I have many – lol) and providing support.
      Yay to Bronwen and the other ALL staff!! 😁🥰

  9. Barbara is an inspiration to us all!! Her dedication and love for her students shines through and when I retire, I look forward to being a tutor as well. Thank you, Barbara, for being such a wonderful mentor and friend.


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