Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: Year of Living Generously by Lawrence Scanlan

In this non-fiction entitled Year of Living Generously, the author Lawrence Scanlan articulates his interest in philanthropy. He outlines its meanings and through his curiosity on the rationale for people donating their money or time, he decided that he would spend a year on volunteering. He wanted to get a sense of who volunteers and why, as well as those who donate their money to their favourite causes. This journey takes place in Southern Ontario with a few exceptions; one being in San Jose, Costa Rica, another being in Senegal, Africa and yet another in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Scanlan volunteers at a different organization each month, commencing in January and ending in December. The author takes the reader through a journey of volunteering. He describes each organization, their goals and objectives, the people involved—those that work there and those that volunteer. He assumes the role of volunteer as he outlines his feelings and experiences of getting involved with each of these organizations. He writes about the people who use these organizations. He interacts with them and writes their stories. The homeless person seeking shelter at night in Toronto; the poor person or young families who arrive for meals at another organization in Kingston; the horse farm that offers a Therapeutic Riding Program, the Kingston Hospice and so on, as the reader uncovers the another side of life through Scanlan’s twelve-month journey of volunteering.

In each monthly story, Scanlan philosophizes about volunteering, the need for it, the decline of it and the type of people getting involved in this thankless and yet vital service to the people of Ontario with a glimpse of its importance in the foreign countries mentioned in this book. He signifies the works of Bill Gates and other prominent philanthropists.

Throughout, Scanlan brings in his personal reactions and personal involvement that becomes a learning experience for him and his family. He prescribes the need for Government and the private sector to become more active in promoting and delivering on a sharing and caring society.

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