Walking the Walk

“You need to leave a positive footprint. You need to leave a positive footprint.”

  • Category
  • Written by
    Melinda Gann

“You need to leave a positive footprint. You need to leave a positive footprint.” These words whirled around my head. As I walked along the sand in Redondo Beach, I reflected, “What does that mean?” 

I may not have known what it meant, but I knew what it did not mean. It did not mean that I was supposed to sell shoes. On that I was very clear.  

I continued along my path. I looked down and saw myself creating a path of footprints in the sand. In that moment, a brisk wave hit and gone was my positive footprint. I shrugged my shoulders in disbelief. I went home. 

Every day for more than a year, my mantra would play in my head like the background music in an elevator. “You need to leave a positive footprint. You need to leave a positive footprint.” 

I vowed that when I discovered “it,” I would act swiftly and immediately. Then it happened one day at the beach, ironically.  

I was once again walking on the beach, this time in Hermosa. A lady was struggling with her young child and her dog. Her dog took off running down the beach. Her young son ran the opposite direction.  

She looked at me in a panic, and I yelled, “I will get the boy. Go get that dog!” I ran to boy. He looked scared. I told him it is okay, and we walked down the beach toward his mother—this young boy and some strange lady. 

I pointed to the waves and talked nonsense in an attempt to comfort him. As we walked, he started to comment back. “Victory!” I said to myself. 

Eventually, mother and dog met us on our path. She thanked me tearfully. I am happy that this simple act gave her so much joy and peace of mind. 

I looked down, and I saw my footprint alongside another little footprint of the small boy. Eureka! That’s “it.”

I looked to the sky and pronounced, “You leave a positive footprint by helping others.” That walk in the sand changed my life forever. It is the basis of how I live my life—how I treat all on my path and what I do with time.

It led me on the path to volunteerism—to help those in need through some amazing nonprofit organizations. The time I have donated has been some of the most meaningful and important work of my life. It has enriched me as a human being in ways I never would have anticipated. 

Need some help finding the right place to lend your time and energy? Here are just a few local organizations that can use your support: Angels Gate Cultural Center, Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach, Pediatric Therapy Network, Peninsula Seniors, Richstone Family Center, Toberman Neighborhood Center and Walk With Sally.

June is also National Volunteerism Month. Use this summer to begin your journey to leave YOUR positive footprint in the world.







Melinda Gann has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism from California State University Fullerton. She has worked in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations including the Salvation Army, PBS, Catalina Express and The Queen Mary. Currently she is the director of development for Adia in Torrance.