Can One Person Make a Difference?

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

~ John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address January 20, 1961

“How can I make a difference?” you may think. “I’m not Bill and Melinda Gates. Or Oprah Winfrey. Or Warren Buffet. I don’t have the income or assets to make any meaningful difference.”


That doesn’t matter. Making a difference is not about what’s in your bank account. It’s about what’s in your heart. It’s about being interested in and caring about what happens to another human being.

OK, so what can you do? Here are some tips and some ideas to help you get started.

Tips on making a difference


Choose to do something that...

  • You really enjoy doing

  • You have a special skill or aptitude for

  • Can be welcomed by other people when you do it

  • Has opportunities to multiply your value (ex. teach dozens to perform life-saving CPR, teach scouts values such as reliability/respect/resourcefulness, participate in disaster-relief efforts)

Ideas that might suit you


  • In a classroom

  • Mentoring or Tutoring, especially reading

  • Big Brothers / Big Sisters

  • First aid, CPR, lifeguard training

  • Meditation course

  • Smoking cessation

  • Arts: painting, photography, music, dance, etc.

Model/demonstrate leadership

  • Scouting group

  • Guide for hiking, fishing etc.

  • Coach

Volunteer activities

  • Charitable group: Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.

  • Civic organizations such as Jaycees, Kiwanis, Rotary, Toastmasters

  • Religious group

  • Welcome Wagon

  • Food bank

  • Library

  • Professional fraternal, or other community organization in which you are a memberProfessiona


  • Work on (ideally chair) a local political election campaign

  • Writing: reviews, poetry, fiction

Your actions will create ripples in the minds of those receiving the kindness and some of those ripple will inspire more acts of kindness actions that will produce their own ripples and so on. For a short (under 6 min.) inspirational YouTube video, check out Kindness Boomerang - "One Day"

Also, keep in mind that even someone with few or no resources and no special talents can offer another person a smile and a compliment. And that can give the other person comfort and hope...hope that can, and does, make a difference.


Take another minute or two to look over the ideas above. Pick one. Make a commitment to yourself to get started on it tomorrow. Do it now!


“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

~ Mother Teresa