Some years ago I was asked to go undercover to be part of the television series – Secret Millionaire. I am still asked – ‘Did you enjoy the experience?’ ‘Enjoy’ – no. Did I find it challenging, confronting, and rewarding? Absolutely. Now a few years on I can reflect on what I learned and what was the long term impact of being part of the program.
I did the program on the premise that it was a documentary on volunteering. I did not know where I was going, who I would meet, nor how I would get on. But yes, it was an experience of a lifetime. I was touched moved and inspired by so many people I met. Humbled by what volunteers contribute throughout Australia. My life is now different, I see things in a different way.
I met many people, not all of which were part of the final story. Every person I met added to the experience and the insight I now have and will continue to share what I have learned with others.
The personal challenge, of course, was, ‘how much and to whom.? There were so very many people each with an equally worthy story.
I supported many people and organisations – and whilst I’m sad that some of the people in the story are no longer with us – what I did contribute has remained in use and a legacy.
The money was given with love. But money can be divisive – why did you choose them and not the others, or why that amount? There is no ‘right’ in this – I just did my best, what I could see would make a difference, but more than any of that they know that I give my love, friendship and ongoing support.
Thank you for all the lovely emails, tweets and messages. But it is not ‘me’ it is ‘we’. Each of us can make a difference to others.
Even though the program was called – ‘Secret Millionaire’ it was not about the money – it was about creating relationships and listening.
What I learned is:
- We all need a friend: Everyone has a story and every person needs to be heard – if we have a friend life is so much better
- Money is not the answer: Whilst money is a facilitator it is not the answer – money can be destructive.
- Volunteering is essential: Our community would not function without the billions of hours given by volunteers – We get so much when we give our time.
- Anyone can do what I did: Anyone and everyone can give their time, listening and love to make a difference to others (you don’t have to have money to do it.)
I continue to support the community and am glad that in doing the program all my colleagues at RedBalloon now also have the opportunity to be volunteers through our ‘We Care’ program. And it was pretty great of Russell Crowe to donate his time to the narration too.