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   WZM Award for Compassion 


WZM Award


WZM Award presented on
May 29, 2014 to Angel Paniagua - Jefferson High School







My definition of compassion strays from the usual concept held by society To give help unconditionally can be a good thing and often is a sign of compassion. However, under certain circumstances, this gift intended for kindness can often backfire, forming a dependence on others or happy-go-lucky mindsets in the persons helped. I approach compassion in a different way. While I do help classmates with math and writing in the way described - unconditionally, expecting no reward - I often find myself using a form of tough love to help my peers.

The way I see it, by giving help to someone who always asks, you are depleting their ability to help themselves. You can't do something for someone assuming they will be better off. If someone asks me to review an essay or to help them solve a math problem, I find a way, no matter how tedious, to show them how it's done and how to do it in the future. I become their unqualified substitute teacher prepared to repeat myself using another teaching strategy should the first prove ineffective. This way, I give them the help needed but I don't leave them exactly as they were beforehand. They walk away from the situation with the knowledge necessary to repeat the session without my help and the ability to help others in the same way.

I learned that this approach to compassion is more effective than hand-outs when I realized how unprepared I am for an independent lifestyle. I am 18 years old and I don't know how to cook, clean, or do laundry. On a broader scale I don't know how to file taxes, look/apply for a job, or find a place to live. I have been coddled and cared for by my parents, and my lifestyle has led me to realize that the easy way out is the same as not crossing the finish line. Basically, it's quitting. Having to do very little for myself growing up has put me at a disadvantage. I no longer have the discipline to meet school deadlines that can benefit me in the future. Now that I am near graduation, I am scared. Without simple life skills, I can't function properly in society. This is why my definition of compassion has changed from the norm - sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it - to helping others help themselves.


Ruth Ratna Handy, LCSW
(661) 242-6956


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