Learning how to ‘Be the Gift’

Four women create a game, book and gift cards emphasizing the importance of relationships and making time for yourself

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.

That is the principle behind Be the Gift, a local company created by four women who wanted to put their mark on the world and make it better.

Products include unique gift cards, a table game and book. The gift cards are reminiscent of the “chore coupons,” that children typically make for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but with an adult twist.

A person can buy a gift card for $9.95, and give it to someone. “Gifts” include running errands, cleaning house, a night out on the town, pampering and several others.

Susan Glavin of Camas was the inspiration behind the gift cards.

“I thought it would be a great new way of giving,” she said. “It’s also a way of connecting. You can buy one of these and give it to anyone.”

She was inspired by the idea during a trip to Egypt.

“I meditate a lot,” Glavin said. “I was there and it just came to me. I really live to have fun and be creative, and an inspiration to others.”

She said the idea stayed with her even after returning from her trip, and it was then she knew something must be done with it.

Angie Cherry of Stevenson got involved with the project after undergoing a career change: She quit her full-time job as a construction project manager and formed her own business, Cherry Marketing.

“You move forward so fast you don’t realize that life is going by and you can’t go back,” she said. “I turned my whole life around, so when Susan suggested this, I was in.”

The two of them teamed up with Debbie Oliver and Cheri Anderson, whom Glavin knows from yoga classes and spiritual workshops she leads.

The main purpose behind the gift cards is to send a message to others about the importance of relationships with others and ourselves.

“Instead of thinking, ‘what is wrong with our lives?’ we need to start thinking about what is right with them,” Glavin said. “What is going well, what are you thankful for?”

After a career in fund-raising, Oliver said she learned that she needed other peoples’ time just as much, if not more, than she needed money. The same principle applies to the gift cards, she explained.

“This is based on yourself being the gift. I have friends I just do things for, they call me ‘Debbie Doula.’ I’d rather give of myself than write a check. That’s what attracted me to the whole idea.”

After creating the gift cards, the women decided to write a book, “Be the Gift” with 34 different principles for living. It includes such ideas as “Is it better to exhale than to inhale?” “Love is, above all, the gift of one’s self,” and the quote mentioned in the start of this article.

“It’s really about listening to others and to yourself,” Glavin said. “The book really supports the gift cards because it talks about giving and receiving.”

The women also have created a table game, with questions such as, “If you could have a superpower, what would it be?” and “Who was your first kiss?”, among many others.

Oliver said it has been a hit at dinners, retreats and in classrooms.

“One woman told us that for once, it took longer to eat Thanksgiving dinner than it did to prepare it because of the table game,” she said.

Cherry, who has three young children, said the game is a hit with her family as well.

“I have learned more about my kids by playing the table game,” she said. “You learn a lot about how they think. It’s really fun, it takes the pressure off of people and helps them relax.”

From the gift cards, book and table game has also come Be the Gift teams. It’s similar to the T.V. show, “Extreme Home Makeover,” where a group of volunteers gets together to help a family in crisis.

However, unlike the show, they don’t rebuild their house in a week. Instead, the teams focus on things that can be readily accomplished by volunteers, such as cleaning a house, or landscaping a yard.

The first Be the Gift team project was done for a family in Anacortes, Wash. The mother was undergoing a third bout with cancer and the family home was in chaos.

The four women gathered a group of 30 volunteers and spent two days cleaning and organizing it from top to bottom.

“It was amazing how many people just showed up to help,” Glavin said. “We had donated food so we didn’t have to leave to get anything, it was incredible.”

The team is hoping to pursue another project soon.

Cherry said the whole Be the Gift concept is about wanting people to give of their time.

“It’s about getting out there, taking action and not being afraid,” she said.

Be the Gift products are available at www.bethegiftnow.com, and at Fleurish. 2011 S.E. 192nd Ave., Ste. 102.