Acting for the Greater Good

She grew up under Nazi occupation and was grateful for the international aid that kept her family alive.  She later narrated two radio programs for UNICEF which retold the stories of children in war times.  She was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.

Her first assignment as ambassador was to visit an orphanage in Ethiopia which held 500 children dying of starvation.  Food was being delivered to Ethiopia, but couldn’t be delivered due to civil wars.  Her efforts brought world attention to the needs of the children.

Then she went to Turkey where she helped organize an immunization campaign.  It took just 10 days to immunize the entire country.  Then she went to South and Central America to help bring safe water to places of poverty.  Further efforts took her to Sudan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Somalia.

An enduring image of Audrey Hepburn from those days was hugging a small child who was covered by flies and was obviously dying of starvation.  To many, Audrey Hepburn is best known as a movie star and fashion maven, but for her humanitarian work she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Audrey Hepburn made the transition from acting on film to acting for the greater good.

While few of us will have the platform that Audrey Hepburn had to act for the greater good, all of us can find our own way to contribute to the needs of others.  Acting for the greater good is a hands-on activity.  It’s great to support those in need with financial contributions, but our real contributions come when we become involved directly.  Imagine how Audrey Hepburn was impacted by hugging the children in the camps she visited.

Over our lifetimes how we act for the greater good will change.  Our school systems encourage volunteerism.  Young professionals can often make contributions through programs sponsored by their organizations.  Older adults can support others by mentoring and guiding those who may not have this kind of support in their families.  At the current time, all of us could wear facemasks when we are in public to protect us and others.

No matter the activities we choose, the key is to become fully engaged.  Acting for the greater good should not be a photo op, but a genuine delivery of support.

In many cases, the fondness of your memories from acting for the greater good will surpass those from your career.  While Audrey Hepburn won every acting award possible, the work that she did as an ambassador for UNICEF was the real passion in her life.

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“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge you are never alone.”  -Audrey Hepburn

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