By Claire Louge, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Arizona

When I was five years old, I came back to the USA after a year in France, and my English had gotten rusty. I entered first grade and was put into an English as a Second Language class. The language barrier made me shy around other kids, so I usually spent recess alone doing my favorite activity: looking for pretty stones around the playground.

I loved looking for ‘treasures’ wherever I was and finding beautiful things in the environment around me. Finding a piece of quartz was like finding a diamond. Finding a stone that glittered was like finding gold. (Kids are usually good at seeing beauty in things before they are taught the societal rules of what to value.)

Now, in adulthood, I get the same feeling in thrift stores. I LOVE thrift stores. Finding a blouse that fits me and looks good feels like I’ve found a treasure. There’s something deeply satisfying about finding something that already exists and suits me. And, of course, it’s far cheaper (and more environmentally sustainable) than buying new.

When we have a problem, it’s normal to look for something new, a solution outside of what we have, rather than looking around to see what exists. This isn’t wrong, but if we don’t look at what we have, we may be missing that we already have the solution to our problem.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with the people who run the Birth to Five Helpline at Southwest Human Development. As you may know, the Birth to Five Helpline is a free service for any caregiver of a young child (including professionals), in which they can call with any question about parenting or child development. The non-judgmental, compassionate early childhood specialists who answer the phone will refer you to other resources you may need and will spend as much time as you want to talk about your question/concern. That’s amazing.

With everything going on in the world, you know the struggle is real for families right now. I’m moved by how much people in our sector (like you) care. There is so much to care about, and so much that needs to be done. Every day, every time you turn on the news, or visit social media, or open up your inbox, people (like me!) are asking you to care about what they care about. The volume of things that you could do, or perhaps think you should do, might overwhelm you into doing nothing at all.

But you don’t need to do something drastic or create a big new thing, to help. Look first at what you already have – what already exists- and go from there. Maybe the best solution is already in front of us, like the Birth to Five Helpline.

Even if it’s small. Even if it’s easy. Use what you have. Do what you can do. That’s how we create the world we want.

Speaking of which, please vote.