The other night, I attended the 58th annual Greater Phoenix Heart Ball, an elegant affair supporting an outstanding cause, the American Heart Association.
For many of the over 800 fabulously dressed guests, this event kicks off the holiday season and is an opportunity to catch up or reconnect with folks that our busy life prevents us from seeing on a regular basis. Certainly, it’s not the venue to have a long, in depth, quiet, tête-à-tête, but in between courses of scrumptious chocolate layered cake and when your feet needed a break after dancing to “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” there was plenty of time for interaction, fun exchanges and lively banter.
The atmosphere was electric and it was all about kicking up your heels, or for that matter taking them off, so you could really have some fun. However, underneath the bright, shiny, glamorous décor, was the understanding that your contribution, big or small, could lead to a healthier life.
On the drive home, I couldn’t help thinking about those who look at this time of year through a very different lens. The holidays can be extremely lonely and especially difficult for many people for many reasons. I lost both my parents between Thanksgiving and Christmas a few years apart, and I know there are countless others who have experienced the same. Quite frankly, even if you lost someone you love at another time of the year, the holidays can still be bittersweet, as they are both good and bad reminders of that loss.
There are other circumstances that can cast a dark cloud over the season. Everything from health, job and financial struggles to just having an overwhelming case of the blues can affect. We may cavalierly dismiss someone’s dislike of the holidays as just having a bah humbug attitude when in fact, like Mr. Scrooge, that person may just be in need of a little unconditional kindness.
I realize that I am preaching to the choir when I discuss giving back, given my experience with how generous this community truly is. But I feel the need to continuously remind myself, for as fortunate as so many of us are, there are others whose circumstances don’t inspire confidence to feel the same way. My mom always taught me that no matter how difficult you think you have it, there is always someone out there struggling more than you. As a single mom working sometimes three jobs to support us, my mom still always bought a toy for a tot, put money in the Salvation Army’s red pot or gave food or dollars to a homeless person sitting on the corner. She was not in a position to write a big check or go to a gala, but she did what she could and gave a little of what she had and I’m certain that act of kindness went a long way.
As a way of continuing that tradition, each year at this time, we work with UMOM and their “adopt a family” program. I cannot describe how incredibly lucky and grateful we feel as we painstakingly go down every aisle in the store looking for those special presents for each person, as well as an experiential gift that the entire family can enjoy. Although shopping for a family that’s fallen on hard times feels like a totally different experience than a night out for a worthy cause in a ball gown, the gesture, sentiment, and conviction is the same.
The Heart Ball is all about taking care of your heart and for that matter, any act of kindness you do, no matter how big or how small, during the holiday season or any time of year, means you are also taking care of someone else’s heart.
— Robin Sewell is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning Arizona Highways Television.