Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Living Fulfilled: The Infectious Joy of Serving Others by Lisa Thomas-McMillan

“…the message is effectively universal.”
Available in hardcover or eBook

Living Fulfilled: The Infectious Joy of Serving Others is Lisa Thomas-McMillan's inspirational memoir about helping the plight of America's hungry that is equal parts harrowing and uplifting. With a decidedly spiritual message, she tells of her life growing up impoverished in Alabama, settling down in Los Angeles, and then traveling back to her hometown to help the plight of the poor. She is also a fierce advocate against the death penalty. What makes Lisa Thomas-McMillan such an effective narrator is that she literally walks the walk. The book is punctuated by two long walks - one in Alabama, and a 900-mile trek from Alabama to Washington DC to raise awareness. She also raises spiritual awareness within herself. The book is at once a call to arms for volunteerism and a powerful spiritual message.

Even as she is witness to so many people's misery, author Thomas-McMillan is filled with joy and hope - the joy of being a servant to a greater cause. Though the spiritual message will be quite meaningful to those who share her faith, it may be so strong as to put some people off, which is a shame because her intentions are so worthwhile. Hunger, or even the death penalty, are not religious principles, so one doesn't need theology to understand their impact. If Thomas-McMillan's goal is to bring attention to these pressing issues, the book could have had a more universal message. There's a significant percentage of readers who will be sympathetic to her cause, but less sympathetic to her beliefs. However, this is Thomas-McMillan's story, and she tells it with great empathy and enthusiasm. So whatever religious reflections there may be should not dissuade any reader from giving the book a try. Her main message is that people should help to take care of others. That may be Jesus' message, but it's also common sense, so beyond whatever proselytizing there may be, the core of the book is uplifting and effective.

Over 15 million children face hunger only in the United States; think about Africa or Asia, and how many go hungry there? Eleze “Lisa” Thomas-McMillan of the Carlisa Inc. food bank in US took up just that mission- eradicating hunger from the world. In the book “Living Fulfilled: The Infectious Joy of Serving Others”, Thomas-McMillan educates us that we could have everlasting joy in helping the poor, needy and the hungry. The book is a biography as well as a testament to Thomas-McMillan’s philosophy and mission: if we all live for one another instead of for ourselves, no one will go hungry or have to endure the many sufferings that accompany a life of poverty.

In her memoir, Thomas-McMillan describes how her family of fourteen was squeezed into a six room wooden house in Brewton, Alabama. Her father worked three jobs and brought them up so that they could turn out to be community helpers. She settled in Los Angeles later on, but returned home with a mission.

For spreading awareness about the plight of the hungry in the US, Thomas-McMillan walked over 1500 miles across the states of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and at last reaching Washington DC, spreading her wings of compassion about the poor in the States and giving away free food. Her message is simple: no one should go hungry. Living Fulfilled is part biography and part call to action for helping the poor and the hungry. The book is littered with inspiring and afflicted accounts from the author’s own troublesome beginnings.

On her journey to Washington DC from her hometown she encountered hungry people. She fed them and talked to them, listened to their stories, encountered other challenges but at last she did reach her destination. A whole chapter is dedicated to this great ‘pilgrimage’ which evokes images of Martin Luther King who took great walks in the name of freedom.

Aside from the inspirational accounts from the life of this great philanthropist, the memoir is also a great read for any social worker who wants to do something good for his/her community or be someone who doesn’t just live for himself but for the welfare of his fellow humans, because that is where, according to Thomas-McMillan, true joy is to be sought.

The book is also a sort of volunteering manifesto, where everything from why to make donations to how to help the poor is explained. Almost everyone will find the book a great read , but not everyone will sense the great purpose of the book- the infectious joy of serving others - unless the reader finds his own strength and does something for the community, because joy can only be experienced.

Although written by a US author primarily for eradicating hunger and poverty in her local area and the States, the message is effectively universal. The spiritual awakenings are part of the reason for the author’s dedication to her mission.

The religious connotation of the book is a bit offsetting for some people, but ‘Living Fulfilled’ is Thomas-McMillan’s own memoir and no one else can have a say in that. Aside from the religious element, the book is choke-filled with motivational messages for volunteerism, philanthropy and community work all for the sake of a truly fulfilled life.

“…the message is effectively universal.”
Available in hardcover or eBook

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