by Lawrence Scanlon – $19.95
This book chronicles Lawrence Scanlon’s real life experiences, living and helping volunteer organizations in different parts of the world, a month at a time. While some chapters are a bit longer than necessary to make his points, this book is an inspiration, an insight into different opportunities; a starting point for anyone interested in volunteering their time and energy for the benefit of society.
The January chapter recounts Scanlon’s volunteer work at the St. Vincent de Paul Society-Loretta Hospitality Centre in Kingston, Ontario, feeding, housing and clothing, men, women and children. Scanlon gets to know daily visitors and he tells us about Judy, a middle aged woman from a middle class background. Then after twenty years of marriage every thing fell apart in Judy’s life. Divorce led to depression and self-medication with alcohol and drugs and within three years Judy was living on the streets.
A chapter that provoked a great deal of discussion was Scanlon’s time volunteering at the Kingston Penitentiary. He asked one of the older inmates, “What is it like inside?”. The inmate answered, “I can tell you about the rapes, especially of the young. Going inside a Mr. Tough Guy attitude doesn’t cut it in prison because there is always someone tougher than you.” And when he asks how prison personnel work daily with the incarcerated, dealing with the risks and enforcing the rules, he is told they form an impersonal, remote, protective shield.
September is a chapter at The Onguanada Resource Centre in Kingston where no one uses language to communicate but all communicate in their own way. All at Onguanada are profoundly challenged in mind and body.
October chronicles a stint with Habitant for Humanity in New Orleans.
In December, Scanlon spends the month in Dakar exploring the obstacles to improving education of females, and coming to understand the prevalence of poverty, deep and widespread corruption on all levels, and the uncertain economy. But he also talks about his appreciation of the Senegalese tight and meaningful family ties, their neighborhood connections and their generous hospitality.
Every chapter in Lawrence Scanlon’s, A Year of Living Generously provides eye-opening insights into the world of philanthropy and the rich returns to those who choose to give of their time to help others.
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