I’ve said it, you’ve said it. We have all heard it at one time or another.
Every person has gifts, and we should share those gifts with our world.
But what happens when what you thought was your gift, your way of giving back, is taken from you? Is that it? Do you have nothing else to give?
George Halpin’s gift was working with children. Bringing health and healing to kids and families here in Baltimore. As a pediatrician for years at Sinai’s GreenSpring Pediatrics, then for a little bit at the ParkWest Health Center, Dr. Halpin was able to use the gifts he worked for years to learn to impact thousands of little ones; in addition to outpatient care, he also worked for many years against lead poisoning in kids, both in New Jersey and in Baltimore.
Last summer Dr. Halpin’s gift, along with much of the life that he had built was taken from him by a stroke. Like many survivors of strokes Dr. Halpin has had to relearn much of what we all take for granted. But this story isn’t about that aspect of his healing. It is about looking ‘sudden change’ in the face, understanding that the gift he lived his life to give, was no longer an option. Dr. Halpin had to ask himself the question that isn’t easily answered, “Is this it? Do I have nothing else to give?”
Hard moments in life happen to everyone; and we all have the opportunity to choose how we react and heal from those changes. Every day the Center welcomes people from our community that are in the midst of hardship and tragic changes. The stories are at once heart breaking and empowering in so many ways. But, it really comes down to how we take those moments, and how we make the sometimes daily choices we must make: to get out of bed, to breath, to try. And yes, to give back.
Within those daily choices George Halpin, MD, became George Halpin, Baker.
It was in the kitchen that George became acquainted with the new gift he would be sharing. Surrounded by the warm smell of hot yeast, sifted flour, and molding pan after pan of homemade crusty bread George began to heal. But baking bread for himself wasn’t in-line with the legacy of giving to people that he has natualy built. So, in April of this past year Dr. Halpin’s bread began to come to the Franciscan Center. Where it is welcomed with open hearts and given, through our emergency pantry, to those in our city who can’t afford groceries.
George makes three or four batches of bread a week, each batch is five loaves. Much like the diverse community that we have the opportunity to work with, each loaf is unique, some are more crusty, some soft, others have a darker shade of golden color. All of them beautiful. All of them needed. All of them a gift.
While it is apparent to those who know Dr. Halpin that he considers himself fortunate, he and his wife have advance degrees, are able to maintain life without his income, and have good medical insurance. They have a strong web of support, and the gift of each other. In his mind he isn’t a hero or a victim, but a man working hard to rebuild, dealing with the struggles that come with such large life changes.
What is beautiful is that George Halpin did what many of us try, and sometimes succeed at doing: He made the hard choice, and redefined his gift. He’s not squishing tummies any more, but he is making lots of bread.
Look around you. There are people in need. Think outside of what you normally do, and let’s find new ways to help those people. Let’s take the inspiration that is Dr. Halpin, and make it our own. Let’s do something good for others today. You never know, you may just do something good for yourself at the same time.