Summer “Vacation”: Off Hours Activities that Provide More Perspective

July is traditionally the time for vacations, and I did take a short one. But some other time away put way more perspective on markets, portfolios and financial plans.

Early in July, I accompanied my daughter as a co-team leader on a church youth group mission trip. Our destination was not far, just to New York, but in some ways we traveled a long way from our cozy life in Longmeadow.

We were sent by an agency call YSOP (Youth Service Opportunities Project—see www.ysop.org) to various non-profit groups in the greater New York area to serve as volunteers. To say that this was nothing like my typical expense account trip to New York was an understatement, but it was good to be in a completely different mode in the city. We worked in soup kitchens, day care centers serving children of incarcerated mothers, and the kids made and served a sit down dinner for homeless people. The youth were great. It was hot and humid, we commuted on the subway for hours, the work was demanding, and we slept on the floor of a church at night, but not one of them complained. It was an intense and meaningful trip that we are so glad we did.

My other volunteer effort is joining the finance committee of the YWCA of western Massachusetts (http://www.ywworks.org/). This organization is the largest of its type in the commonwealth, offering shelter, support and self-sufficiency for women and girls in our community. I am only just getting started with the people who run that organization, but am already impressed with what they have accomplished and am eager to work with them helping other women.

So if all we have to worry about is our money, rather than our personal safety or where our next meal is coming from, we are all truly blessed. May you all remain so in the years ahead!