Helping other people is powerful.

One of the main concerns of families I work with is how the financial success of the family will affect the rising generation. They are particularly concerned about the potential negative effects.

I’ve worked with families for many years; family has been my area of focus in many realms. I’ve worked in different roles with some of the wealthiest and poorest families in America. I’ve consistently witnessed when families (regardless of their level of wealth) focus on helping others, their children tend to develop a special character. They use whatever resources they have (time, personal commitment, money too) to make the world better.

I’d like to share a recent experience as a lead-in to some ideas for anyone raising kids with a desire to develop character and social impact.

Currently, there are many opportunities to make a huge impact. I’m involved with an interfaith organization helping resettle Afghan families, many of whom helped our troops with security and translation. Four men were forced to leave their families in Afghanistan to take advantage of an opportunity the U.S. gave them to live and work here and then bring their families over too. All four recently were relocated near my town. They speak almost no English and needed work, English lessons, and lots more to help them adjust to our society.

As you might imagine, finding work is tough when you do not speak any English. Yet it occurred to me that these men are very smart and have a variety of skills and experiences from their homeland. They could quickly take on jobs which require repetitive tasks just by watching and learning.

I used my network and connected with a CEO in manufacturing who is in desperate need of workers. He is also a veteran and was excited and motivated to help men who helped our troops. He instructed his head of HR to do whatever it took to find roles for these men and help them with the language challenges. The company even had a required safety video translated into Farsi and overnighted for orientation. All four men were hired for the same shift so they can support one another to learn various aspects of the job and then recruit and train other Afghans resettling here. The company, like many in America right now, needs many more workers and this benefits everyone.

Raising kids?

These Afghan families and now Ukrainian families are coming in droves to the U.S. and many other countries around the world. Their needs are numerous. Teens, and often younger kids depending on their maturity level, can help in so many ways. They can be exposed to hardships that exist in the world AND make a concrete and immediate impact which gives a powerful sense of perspective and meaning to the comfort and safety many of us enjoy.

These folks need many things teens (and many pre-teens) can help with:

  • To learn our alphabet
  • Practice partners for speaking English
  • Help navigating public transportation
  • Assistance finding and navigating grocery stores
  • Help submitting online job applications
  • To open bank accounts
  • Coaching on using smartphones based in English
  • Support adjusting to school – for the families lucky enough to come here together, an offer of friendship to help a new student is a lifelong gift deeply meaningful to both. This can be a life-changing experience.

And they need so much more…

Each state has many different resources. A quick web search brings up many opportunities for involvement. Most houses of worship provide ways to be active too. Sit with your kids and search for a way to be involved together.

Many readers of this blog are well-connected in the business world. Use your networks to find opportunities for hard-to-place evacuees with minimal English-speaking skills (e.g., in manufacturing or food production). Some refugees speak English, are educated, and have usable skills – help them network.

I hope you will consider being involved. If you have kids, include them in the process. For them, seeing you walk-the-walk will be invaluable and involving them in the process of lifting another person or family out of despair is a priceless inoculation against unhealthy entitlement and complacency.