The Counsellor's Corner



(PART 2 OF 2)


     My last column was devoted to letters I received from 4th and 5th graders regarding my speaking as part of the "Successful Leaders from our Community" Speaker Program.  This is a group of people of different professions brought together by Los Angeles financial planner Sam Renick that speaks at various grade schools in an attempt to give underprivileged children some hope.

     My topic this year was, "It's Better to Give than Receive" and after my talk I encouraged the youngsters to give to someone and then write about what it feels like.  Students gave and really benefitted from the experience.  One wrote about giving his friend an elephant that had been given to him by his mother.  While he didn't expound on the nature of the elephant, I'm going to assume it was of the stuffed animal variety.  Another student was given a pencil with an eraser as he was told by the gift giver that he always loses his pencils and that the eraser should help because he makes a lot of errors.

     Another young lady decided to take matters into her own hands, as she made cookies for the 5th grade class.

     I received a mixed message from one of the young men who gave a female friend of box of mini chocolates and he received an automobile transformer from a male friend.  His conclusion from all of this was:  "From that day I realized that it is better to give than to receive.  But it also better to receive than to give." 

     Another young man offered a keen insight into the giving-receiving dyad, indicating that, "Humor may be a present, so when my brothers and sisters, friends and cousins, etc., are sad I know that their relief is a little or a big joke...   Almost each Sunday, I give money to the poor.  Even if they don't know who I am, they are appreciating that."

     One young man seems to be getting an early jump on his social life.  He bought a doll for a female friend and concluded, "I felt happy that I gave a present to a girl.  She was a happy little girl.  I was a very happy little boy."

     One of the more touching letters indicated that, "I gave my family love because they gave me love first.  My family is the one and only thing that I will always have in my life.  They supported me to be the best that I can be." 

     One young student donated clothes that had almost been thrown away and concluded that, "Probably a needy kid got them and used them and felt happy.  You get a happy feeling when you give, and for some reason you feel the feeling in your stomach.  You could only get that feeling when giving.  It's a feeling that you know you helped someone."

     The school may have thought I was giving the day I spoke, however receiving all of these letters from these wonderful children leads me to feel that I received far more than I gave.

     Some were even kind enough to write me letters to tell me I was their favorite speaker.  One young lady apparently plans to follow my path as she wrote that she plans to become a criminal defense attorney and a therapist.  She said that she is trying very hard in school so she can achieve her dreams.  She said she doesn't care how much money she is paid as long as she gets to do what she wants to do.  She is also motivated by the desire to have her parents be proud of her.

     The older I get the more important it is to me to give rather than receive.  That feeling you get when you give just can't be replaced and it can't be taken away.


          Dr. Charles J. Unger is a criminal defense attorney in the Glendale law firm of Flanagan, Booth & Unger, and a therapist at the Foothill Centre for Personal and Family Growth.  Mr. Unger writes a bimonthly column on legal and psychological issues.