If you’ve ever flown on a commercial airplane, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “In the unlikely event that we lose cabin pressure…”. Then, the flight attendants demonstrate how to use the oxygen masks that drop from the ceiling, and they end with some pretty important words: “Be sure to secure your own mask before assisting other passengers.” This means you need to make certain you are safe before helping anyone else. The flight attendants stress that you take care of yourself first because if you do not secure your own mask, that means you and the person you’re trying to help are at risk. That could mean two people are in need of critical care instead of just the one passenger nearby who needs assistance – which means a larger strain on the flight crew and surrounding passengers who will try to step in and solve the problem. It may sound a little self-centered, but your primary objective is to ensure you are safe and healthy before you can effectively aid others.
As we go from a rather chaotic 18 months of a global pandemic and enter the upcoming holiday season, I encourage everyone in the community to ensure your oxygen mask is secure first. This goes double for our community members who serve the public, such as first responders, waste management, healthcare workers, and non-profit workers and volunteers. We all tend to give and give until we put ourselves at risk for burnout. There’s even an adage for it: “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s no secret that constantly running on empty takes a toll on your own physical and mental health.
The Fayette Community Foundation talks a lot about what you can do for the community – and that is our primary mission: to inspire a spirit of philanthropy and leadership to enhance the quality of life. However, philanthropy comes from inside people – and the most philanthropic people tend to be the most selfless among us. Fayette County is full of giving, caring individuals. It’s important to remember: to care for the community, we must care for ourselves, too. This means sometimes you have to make sure your oxygen mask is secure.
For a good list of ways to begin creating space for yourself and preventing burnout, go online to givetofcf.org and read our article: Community Care Starts Within. You’ll find a list of self-care tips and places within our community where you can take advantage of the beautiful Fall season to unwind and reconnect with nature. Another way to support our community is to check in with people – especially the ones who dedicate their time to serving others. Ask how they are doing – and listen for cues that they could use a hand. Offer to help where you can. It won’t be long before we have snow on the ground, so make a mental note to shovel sidewalks for your neighbors who have a lot on their plate, if you can. A little kindness and consideration can make a world of difference to someone.
Once you’re certain your oxygen mask is on, you’re feeling good, and you’re ready to help others, the Fayette Community Foundation can help you get started on your mission. Whether that’s setting up a fund, learning about where you can lend your leadership skills in the community, or simply setting up monthly subscription-based donations to help where it’s needed most: we’re here to serve you. All you need to do is reach out. Give us a call at (765) 827-9966 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Alexandra Pflug, Executive Director and CEO, Fayette Community Foundation