A Time for Giving

To give is better than to receive and here are a few quotes that we really like.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ― Mother Teresa


“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ― Winston S. Churchill


“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” ― Amy Wilson-Carmichael


“For it is in giving that we receive.” ― St. Francis of Assisi


“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ― Anne Frank


“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” ― Lao Tzu

Every time you give to Common Change you’re giving someone else the chance to find a place to where they can belong and be real.

This Christmas season, remember Common Change as you consider your year-end giving.


A Refugees Journey


Hosnayya’s oldest son, Mohammed graduation

Common Change has a deep and significant commitment to relationships, and those relationships extend to refugees. One of the very first requests ever met by a group of friends on Common Change was that of a refugee family from Sudan. Sudan was entangled in an unthinkable Civil War that saw millions killed and over 4 million displaced.

Four of those people were Hosnayya and her three children who found themselves in Cairo, Egypt.  In 2004 there was an American teacher, Jackie, working in Cairo, who became friends with Hosnayya and helped navigate the resettlement process to the United States. Speaking Arabic and a little bit of broken English, Hosnayya and her three children were relocated to Omaha, Nebraska.  Like any major transition in life, Hosnayya experienced her fair share of significant bumps along the road.  Most devastatingly, her daughter, Rania, passed away after having a grand mal seizure (she had been diagnosed with epilepsy) shortly after arriving in the United States.

Hosnayya’s oldest son, Mohammed, was four years old when he arrived in the United States. This past spring he graduated high school and now is pursuing a degree in medicine at the University of Nebraska. They have come a long way and there is much to celebrate.

If you were to ask Hosnayya how she got to where she is, one of the things you would hear is the importance of relationships. She is where she is because of the community of people that welcomed her as one of their own, that celebrated in times of victory, that mourned in times of sadness, that helped create opportunity, and walked alongside her in times of need.


Hosnayya Spring 2005

It is this commitment to relationships that Common Change seeks to create —  a generative culture of belonging, where everyone is cared for and loved.  It is out of this commitment to relationships that a group of people are able to work together to make one refugee family’s journey possible.

Join us in helping refugees in finding a culture of belonging by:

More Stories About Groups Helping Refugees

Offering Help

Do a quick search on the Internet for how to ask for help and you will find countless articles describing why it is so difficult to do so.  What if instead of requiring people to become better at asking for help, we became better at offering it? –

By pooling money together with those you know BEFORE needs are identified, you’re freed to look for opportunities to help. When money has specifically been set aside to help people, it becomes easier to do so. Even though you might be willing to help, it’s still difficult for people you know to reach out in their time of need. That’s why we’ve made it the norm for members to reach out first and offer assistance.

The following tips are offered as ways to know when/how to offer help:

  • Pick up on cues —  don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • If at all possible, avoid phone conversations and emails and have your conversation in person and in private.
  • Acknowledge your own limitation in seeing something correctly.
  • Be straightforward. share a personal story, but do not micromanage or be manipulative.
  • Say thank you when someone has shared something sensitive.  When someone has entrusted you with a sensitive situation, it is meant to be carried carefully.
  • Share the story of Common Change and specifically your group.  Ask for permission to share the requests and let them know that there’s no guarantee but you would like to at least ask.

One of the most amazing aspects of group giving is that it changes the way we react to other peo­ples’ needs. Instead of ignoring or shying away from needs for lack of resources, we get to proactively look for and respond to the needs around us, because we know that we have resources to meet them. Here are a couple helpful hints on finding needs and meeting them well as a group:

  1. Focus on people that someone in your group has a personal relationship with. We call this the principle “One Degree of Separation.”
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that feel uncomfortable. Often we shy away from questions about mon­ey, but remember that people are probably more afraid to ask you for help than you are to ask them if they need it, so if you don’t ask, you might never know.
  3. When exploring a potential need, ask specific questions about the need. Meeting general needs that are large and vague can overwhelm the group and the process. When a person posts with very specific information about a specific opportunity, it helps the group to function better.

Challenging The Status Quo 60 Years Ago Today

Rosa Parks: an introvert who changed the world.

This #GivingTuesday, Common Change is taking the opportunity to remember a woman who boldly challenge the status quo of her day.  Rosa Parks writes “I had been pushed around all my life and felt at this moment that I couldn’t take it any more.” On the evening of Dec. 1, 1955, when bus driver James Blake ordered her to give up her seat to a white passenger and she refused. Blake chose not simply to evict her from the bus, as he had done in the past, but to have her arrested. Calling attention to the larger power in the system, Parks questioned the arresting officers, “Why do you push us around?” One officer answered back “I don’t know but the law is the law and you’re under arrest.”

Jeanne Theoharis writes the following in her article for the Washington Post.

Repeatedly in her writings, Parks underscored the difficulties in mobilizing in the years before her bus protest: “People blamed [the] NAACP for not winning cases when they did not support it and give strength enough.” She found it demoralizing, if understandable, that in the decade before the boycott “the masses seemed not to put forth too much effort to struggle against the status quo,” noting how those who challenged the racial order like she did were labeled “radicals, sore heads, agitators, trouble makers.” Indeed, Rosa Parks was red-baited and received death threats and hate mail for years in Montgomery and in Detroit for her movement work.

Though the righteousness of her actions may seem self-evident today, at the time, those who challenged segregation — like those who challenge racial injustice today — were often treated as unstable, unruly, and potentially dangerous by many white people and some black people. Her writings show how she struggled with feeling isolated and crazy, before and even during the boycott. In one piece of writing, she explained how she felt “completely alone and desolate as if I was descending in a black and bottomless chasm.”

Let’s continue the tradition of challenging the status quo.

Read, How history got the Rosa Parks story wrong