I have a confession to make. I’ve never liked asking for help. As a kid, I constantly heard the phrase, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” So I often thought explaining a task to someone else would be a waste of time because I could get it done faster if I just did it myself.

Then I started the Progressive Black News in 2012, a small independent newspaper that was sunset in 2017. That endeavor broke me of the notion of being a one-woman show. It didn’t take me long to learn that being a Chief Everything Officer would be an express ride to an early grave (or an ulcer). If I was going to run that business AND keep my sanity, the only way that it would work was with help. So I hired a staff of multiple freelancers. With writers, delivery, sales, and layout, my one-woman show became a machine, not necessarily well-oiled, but definitely running.

That experience taught me many things. As it relates to help, I learned that needing it doesn’t make one weak. It makes one human.

I’ve also learned that recognizing you need it is only the beginning step. A situation can’t be turned around until the help is requested. Like the Bible says, “You have not because you ask not.”

Recently I was confronted with the idea of asking for help, but from a very different perspective, from the perspective of giving it. I have the privilege of serving as board president for Laura Lee Fellowship House. While I was in the process of asking for help for an upcoming fundraiser, Laura Lee was making headlines.

On Dec. 28, Laura Lee was burglarized for the second time in less than six months. The perpetrator stole a laptop, a flat screen television, petty cash and snacks.

As a result of my posting images to social media, I was contacted by multiple television stations for interviews. One reporter asked me what I would say to the person who did this. As angry as I was about the burglary, there was a part of me that recognized this is still a person, who obviously was in need, and my heart ached for the opportunity to try to connect with him, as a person.

Although I responded with something to that effect, I pondered the question for the rest of the day. What would I say to him or want him to know? Then it hit me: “You would have gotten more than you took from us if you had simply come to us and said, ‘I need help.’”

If this person was homeless, we could have referred him to The Mission, a great place to find shelter. If this person was hungry, The Mission feeds people daily and several food pantries around town give out food.

If this person didn’t have money for household bills, like electricity or rent, we could have connected them with East Central Illinois Community Action Agency because that organization provides resources for those.

Whatever help he needed, we could have given to him or connected him with someone else who could. Although I may never have the opportunity to speak to that person directly, I do have the opportunity to speak to many of you through this column.

So I’m here to say, whatever help you need, there are resources available to you. All it requires of you is to recognize you need the assistance, and then ask for it.

In the spirit of asking for help, Laura Lee Fellowship House’s next fundraiser is a shoe drive starting Jan. 20 through March 31. We’re collecting gently used and worn shoes that will be purchased from us and sent to Third World countries to help microbusinesses get started selling the shoes in their countries.

Donations can be made at drop-off boxes at Wright’s Heating & Air on South Gilbert Street, County Market North at the Village Mall on North Vermilion Street, and at Laura Lee Fellowship House at 212 E. Williams St. We also will be sorting and bagging shoes on Saturdays throughout this time period, so we’ll need help from volunteers as well.

For information you can visit our website at www.lauraleefellowshiphouse.org or call us at 217-442-0931.

Tricia D. Teague is a speaker, founder of The Trep School, and trained coach with the Coaches Training Institute. She can be reached at tricia@thetrepschool.com. To schedule a free coaching session by going to www.thetrepschool.com/coaching

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