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Compassion fatigue

Posted on September 22, 2015 by Sunny South News

By Loraine Debnam

Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon and her son Jack Robbins have recently completed a project and released their film to the public.
“Storied Streets” is a documentary account, in which Jack and several of his friends — all recent college graduates — travelled to nine different cities in the United States to record the plight of the homeless.
Using only hand-held cameras and microphones to maintain a low profile, they spent time with a variety of individuals and the stories they produced are incredible.
When Sarandon was asked by an interviewer why she felt there was so little support for this issue, she replied, she thought the economic downturn had a role to play but there was also the problem of compassion fatigue.
I had never heard this expression before but I certainly didn’t need to have its meaning explained to me.
As we go into the fall and winter season here in Alberta, the needs will grow exponentially. The provincial economy is suffering and budget cuts will affect many individual people and organizations.
Selfless giving is a key component to many spiritual and religious beliefs and we can all do something regardless of our circumstances. But, how to make a good decision about which charity to support is a tough question, it’s a very subjective area.
Probably, we should all begin by choosing those which are causes or areas of concern for each of us personally and which agree with our own ethics and values.
Asking questions about their mission and objectives is always a good idea and most have a website or literature available to help make an assessment. Then, we must decide if we have time or goods or financial resources to share. If it’s our time we can donate, there are needs at schools, hospitals, the soup kitchen, etc., where helping will give us a sense of purpose and inner satisfaction. If we have goods to contribute, the food banks, Harbor House, thrift shops, un-needed eyeglasses for the Lions Club sight program or mittens and socks for Streets Alive, are just a few examples.
If we choose to make a financial donation, any amount is always appreciated — buy a poppy, a bag of books at an animal rescue fundraiser, school supplies for a child who needs them, or mail a cheque directly to the charity of your choice.
Whether you want to start small by donating your unwanted goods to a local thrift shop or making an appointment at the Blood Donor Clinic; choose province-wide needs like purchasing a STARS calendar or help with the building of a house for Habitat for Humanity; go national with offerings to cancer research or the Heart and Stroke Foundation; or decide to make contributions on a global scale by filling boxes for Operation Christmas Child or writing letters for Amnesty International — choose something.
There are so many who could use your help — veterans, children, arts/culture and historical groups, seniors, families in crisis, the homeless, those with physical limitations, abandoned animals, other nations in desperate situations — the list is growing.
We all need to get past that “fatigue” Sarandon was talking about and discover how helping others can provide us with a sense of psychological, spiritual and emotional well-being.

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