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How to be a Natural Helper

Updated: Oct 7, 2021



There are so many ways to be a friend to someone in need. I’ve shared “You have to be a friend to have a friend” principles over the years, mostly with preschoolers and at wellness gatherings. Years ago, when I was serving students at a Tribal college, I met a young man. This young man was older than me at the time which indicates how young I must have been. He arrived having left his family, his home, his ancestral land, his everything quite honestly and most of the time, seemed to just want to return home. I welcomed him, shared and mostly listened as he shared. I invited him to hang out in my office any time that he wanted and I could work as he talked or he could just play darts on a board I had hanging in my office. After several months, one day, he gifted me with a wing of a beautiful bird, a hawk. He said that this was a gift for “friending him” and he said that it was not for my title, position nor that he wanted anything in return. I am to this day grateful and learned at that moment that you have to be a friend to have a friend, a message I have shared ever since.

We can make a positive impact in the lives of those around us by often times just listening with kindness and compassion. We don’t have to know what another person is going through, feeling or any special education to share compassion and to be with another person. Sharing and offering perspectives at times may help but know that trying to solve or resolve a situation is not always wanted or even needed to be a natural helper. I try to ask permission before offering suggestions or resources to make sure that the person sharing is even interested in that or if simply vocalizing and sharing what was really needed.


If additional support is appropriate and the person is ready, then resources such as specific providers’ i.e. family practitioner, counselor, academic advisor, financial advisor, spiritual leader, advocate, or so forth may be helpful. Remember, that tools and resources are no substitute for a “Friend.” Being a natural helper can be just the thing a person needs for support to remember that we are not alone, that we are medicine and that we are surrounded by medicine. We can gather and process goodness from all around us

and generate a safe learning environment not only for each other but ourselves as well.

Fyi- our family calls the hawks that we see “friendsies.” Ex. Look, there’s a friendsie over there…


From our family to yours,


Paul Tupaz

Wellness Director

Tyme Maidu Tribe of Berry Creek Rancheria



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