Heads Up

Welcome to Heads Up, your one-stop source for news about your son’s upcoming activities and events.

Message from Naheed Bardai, Head, Middle Division

naheed

With the holiday season upon us, how are you planning on spending your time?  How are your boys going to spend their time?  How we spend our time is often an expression of what we value and why we value it.

This year, a group of 12 to 15 friends that I usually get together with for dinner and to do some sort of gift exchange decided we would take the money we normally spend on gifts and pool that money together to buy baby clothes and donate it to a women’s shelter.

Last holiday season, my partner and I decided we wanted to spend Christmas Day with our baby boy (who was four months at the time), volunteering at a shelter.  So I picked up the phone a few weeks in advance and called several shelters in my area. The general response I got was interesting. All were appreciative of the call, but all said they aren’t accepting volunteers just for that day or that week. They wanted those volunteers who have a longer and deeper relationship with the shelter to be present that day. The response caused me to pause and reflect on what service really is and why we do it.

While the donation of clothes and the desire to spend a day at a shelter I’d never been to before are an expression of my values, I wonder if it is the most appropriate way of engaging in service for the benefit of others. I’m sure that both acts have value to the beneficiaries (although, it is an assumption that needs to be checked and not necessarily taken as truth), but does it lead to an impersonal, uninformed type of participation that serves me more than others (by making me feel good)?

Are there other ways that I can engage in deeper and more sustained service? Are there ways that our boys can give of themselves more meaningfully and at the level of human connection and relationship? There’s no doubt a lot of areas of need in our own communities, cities, country and world require financial resources. However, money alone (and by extension, physical goods) is often insufficient to resolve most of our important needs and challenges. How do we engage in service that helps lead to sustainable solutions rather than applying band-aids? How do we model for and encourage our boys to commit to something for more than a day or a season, especially if they really want to make a difference?

One approach is to try to address the symptom and to better understand the cause. During this holiday season, many people in Toronto will be hungry and will rely on a food bank.  Donating to the food bank is necessary to address the symptom of hunger. At the same time, let’s think more about the underlying cause and spend the rest of the year developing a deeper understanding and engaging in action that can help result in fewer people relying on the food bank.

If you’re able over the holiday season, pick an issue or need that your family is passionate about. While finding some way to act and serve now, have root-cause conversations with your boy by looking at data, research, and seeking the opinions of those who are more informed and experienced in the area. Give of yourself in many ways, including your time, knowledge, creativity and network.

For me, if I’m really serious about helping a shelter, it is something I need to commit to for the year, not just for one day.

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Yellow: Upper School
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