Each of us, throughout our lives, has encountered a wide array of people. As we look back we might remember a teacher, a neighbor, a friend, a leader, or even a stranger who made a lasting impression on us. At any given moment of life, we share time and space with these people; whether it be in stores, on the highway, on a bus, or at an event. Some encounters are brief, some are long-term, some are intense, and some hold great meaning to us. Regardless of the type of encounter, each moment has some type of impact on us, and a lifetime of moments creates a legacy. A legacy is not words, but rather your actions, how they will define you, and how they will impact others. A legacy is something bigger than who you are today. It is more than you did this week, this month, or even this year. A legacy is something you are creating today, whether you realize it or not.
There are two types of legacies that one can leave behind, a positive or a negative legacy. If one is not intentional about the legacy they are creating, an unintended legacy will be created whether you plan on it or not. Most people do not consciously choose between the kinds of legacy their life will leave, nor do they realize they are actively creating one with their actions of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. More often than not, legacies just happen.
Domestic violence has the potential to leave behind an unintended legacy of pain, hurt, and terror. A girl who is not the intended target of violence but who witnesses domestic violence, is left with moments that create a legacy that puts her at risk of being more than 3½ times more likely to be a victim of domestic violence later in adulthood. A boy who witnesses his parents’ domestic violence is left a legacy to be twice as likely to abuse his own wife as compared to sons of nonviolent parents. Women who are battered are left a legacy of financial, emotional and psychological challenges, along with a myriad of injuries – more injuries than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. The moments of domestic violence add up to a negative legacy that can last a lifetime.
At Human Options, legacies are created and re-written every day. Because of our shelter and the services that are provided, women and their children enter frantic, anxious, and unwell, and take away moments that allow them to leave calmer, stronger, and empowered to break the cycle of domestic violence. They create a different legacy for themselves and their children. A kind donor left us with a gift that has enabled the shelter to remodel the living quarters of those who stay with us. His gift will create countless moments for numerous women and children, and his legacy will be seen and felt by every family that passes through the shelter.
Think of the difference that could be made in the world if every person chooses to create a positive legacy born of true commitment to a cause or organization that speaks to their heart?
A legacy is what we leave behind after we are gone; it is the moments we leave for others to remember us by. A legacy is forever, whether it just happens, or whether it is planned. Think about it…what will be your legacy? One option you may consider is joining Human Options’ Legacy Society. For more information of how to leave a legacy with Human Options, call Darla Olson 949-737-5242 ext 317.