Without deep pockets, it may seem like Danielle Mendoza has little to give others.
Nothing is further from the truth, said the 35-year-old hair salon owner, who volunteered to give something precious to Samaritan House residents for seven years—herself.
“I still don’t have the money to give, but I give of my time because that’s more precious and valuable than anything you could ever own,” said Mendoza inside her Denver-based business, Dani K Salon.
She volunteered to share her time and talents with shelter residents by offering free haircuts once a month at the downtown shelter. She discovered that in giving herself, she received far more in return.
“It benefits you more than it benefits them,” she said of volunteering. “I don’t know the impact I made on their lives, but I know the impact they had on my life. They taught me to just keep going—to roll up my sleeves and keep going through life’s trials.”
She felt drawn to volunteer when she saw a Craigslist ad for a hairstylist at the shelter. Mendoza said she felt compelled to follow God’s will and that meant helping others in need.
“I was kind of hesitating at first because I didn’t know what to expect,” she said, but realized, “God was telling me this is what I needed to do. Then it just became a part of my life.”
She discovered the shelter residents were the same as every other client that sat in her salon chair—they desired respect and someone who cared.
“That’s what they’re looking for—someone to give them a hand up and not a handout.”
During the time she volunteered, Mendoza said she received many blessings: she met her spouse, made new friends and was inspired to start her own business.
“Those are probably the most rewarding things I got in my life,” she said.
Mendoza recommends volunteering to everyone.
“The worst that’s going to happen is you’re going to have an amazing experience. You’re going to meet other people and you’ll see how little your problems are.”
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Top 3 ways to start giving
Larry Smith, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities, appeared April 28 on Catholic Radio Network (KRCN 1060 AM) to talk about the idea of givers and receivers.
He said the often unique result of charitable work is that after someone gives their time, talent or treasure to another, they receive many more blessings and gifts in return.
“Give where you can. Give to whomever you can,” Smith said on air. “And it’s in giving—I can’t emphasize this enough—that you will receive. If we would just start thinking of others, putting others a little bit more in front of ourselves, we’d find a complete transformation in ourselves.”
Below are Smith’s tips on beginning to give.
- Look at your own family’s needs. Charity begins in the home, then it grows from there.
- Think of others and get involved at your parish. Give where you can. Give to whomever you can.
- Visit ccdenver.org and click on the volunteer button. You can make a difference today just by giving your time.