The holidays aren’t just a time for giving gifts to friends and loved ones. It’s also a time to think about the things we can do for others. At times, that support doesn’t take the form of a monetary donation, but rather a bit of support for people we know, folks from the community, or a stranger in need.
I recently stopped by the book launch party for Everybody Paddles: A Guide to Achieving Partnership, Association, Collaboration and Togetherness, a book that’s a collaboration in and of itself. The collection of essays focuses on the personal experiences of a variety of writers who tell stories about how families and communities of people came together to achieve a goal.
Post-party, we sent a few questions to Charles Archer, CEO of the Evelyn Douglin Center for Serving People in Need (a nonprofit that helps the developmentally challenged) and the “chief instigator” of what he calls the “Everybody Paddles movement.” The email Q&A is below. Tell us what you think of the mission.
Madame Noire: Why did you decide to publish this book now? And how did you decide on the writers who would contribute?
Charles Archer: Over the past year, there has been economic, climate, health, legal and political shifts in our society. With these discussions, there was a tone of misplaced accountability. I believe that the accountability belonged to EVERYBODY. This is now the appropriate time to disseminate this message about time, direction and goal.
The contributors to the guide were people that I witnessed EP moments within their lives and each of them making a difference in the lives of others.
MN: Can you elaborate a little on the “Everybody Paddles”mission.
CA: The mission of Everybody Paddles is to create open dialogue, action opportunities while understanding that everybody is required for everything. There is not one unifying goal. Within each of our lives –professional, personal, communal and social – whatever the intended goal, interest or desired outcome that the group has identified requires an active commitment from all.
For example, as a CEO, my organization’s mission is to enhance the lives of others. It’s important for all employees to understand our purpose, act in accordance with our values, and execute our mission. Everybody! I need all of the great staff of the organization to paddle daily for others. The goal will be different for each organization, each family, each state and each sports team.
MN: In the book, you say, “Society is being divided by economics, education, classism, ageism, gender differences, religion, and partisan politics. Despite these challenges, I believe there is opportunity.” What opportunity? Where do people find common ground to further this idea?
CA: The opportunities have always existed but conveying the message about these opportunities did not exist. The opportunity is if we want to create better, improved, unifying companies, families, communities, cities and states we need to work together, find strong partnerships, associate with visionary people and find innovative collaboration. The common ground is found within us to connect in every area of life with others who share our belief and vision. This is no more evident in that the book contributors want to call people to unification and not division.
MN: People are in a good mood around the holidays. In what ways should they come together in the “Everybody Paddles” spirit as we approach the new year?
CA: Think about those in need. Think about the disadvantaged. Think about the homeless and newly displaced. Think about the elderly and disabled. Think about those with health-related concerns or have lost love-ones. Even think about a family member, friend or colleague you have not spoken to in a while. And then do something. Anything.
Volunteer at a soup-kitchen. Donate old clothing. Purchase a food item for a man, woman or family on the street. Take a cooked dish to a neighbor affected by hurricanes. Call, Skype, Face Time or visit a family elder or other member. And pray for comfort and peace for families who will gather without someone. These are all simple things that we can all do. It does not take hours. It takes minutes.