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   WZM Award for Compassion 


Ruth Handy  presenting WZM  Award for Compassion


WZM Award # 11 Presented on June 4, 2008 to Anthony Lenz of Frazier Mtn. H. S.








by Anthony Lenz

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines compassion as a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress, together with a desire to alleviate it. Compassion is to be empathetic towards those individuals in need as well as showing mercy through fulfilling those needs. It is easy to define compassion with words, but to truly understand it, you need to experience it first hand. I have been blessed with severe insight on what it means to receive compassion through said experience.

In May of 1998, my mother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, an aggressive cancer of the lymphatic system. I was eight when she underwent treatment to fight the spreading disease. During this time our family was under both psychological and financial strain in which we were in desperate need of some support. It was at this time that our community compassionately stepped forward and helped our struggling family. The efforts were headed by our local church and its gracious members. While my father was caring for my mother, my siblings and I had been invited to stay with those members of our church, whom we live with for several weeks. Local businesses had donation cans in which they collected funds to ease our financial burden created by piling medical bills. There was also a blood drive held by AYSO on opening day, in which blood was donated in my mother’s name.

My mother resided at City of Hope, a medical institution established as a safe-haven for those battling cancer, where she received treatment by means of chemotherapy. She eventually received a stem cell transplant in December of 1999 and one month later she was declared cancer free. It is my personal belief that without the support of my extended family and of the community, my mother would have not survived her fight with cancer. This allowed me to see the importance of compassion and the lasting effect it has on people.

Compassion is more than just doing good things for those in need of it. Compassion is having empathy towards the person you’re helping. It is important that you understand their position and motivations to effectively ease and subdue their suffering.

Recently I participated with my church’s youth group in a 30 hour fast to raise money for world hunger. During our time together we also packed food boxes for families in need. It took starving myself to realize the seriousness of world hunger. That these momentary pangs of hunger I felt were an accepted reality for those people we were trying to help. The experience gave me but a taste of what these people have to go through on a daily basis. It also allowed me a greater understanding of what it means to be compassionate, seeing a need and taking great strides to try to fulfill it.

Compassion is scarce in today’s world. Whether it is something as simple as giving money to beggar, or even helping an elderly person with their groceries, people are too egocentric to even consider helping. They would rather hold onto their spare change rather than satisfying a need. But that’s the thing about compassion, giving, and any random act of kindness, they are contagious. It just takes a hand-full of determined, sympathetic individuals whose benevolence galvanizes others in to making a difference as well.


Ruth Ratna Handy, LCSW
(818) 834-5925


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