There are events in your life that change you. In big ways. That make you think, OMG why have I never done anything like this before?
This Thanksgiving we were fortunate enough to be part of just such an event, the annual God’s Love We Deliver Thanksgiving effort. Yesterday, we woke at 4:15 (ok, so I tend to be up then anyway, but Gary is certainly not), hopped into the city and jumped on the assembly lines of one of the most remarkable machines of humanity that I have ever seen. With logistics precision coupled with an undying spirit of combined compassion, humor and the sheer joy of volunteerism, 950 people came out to donate their time in the wee hours of Turkey Day to help make the holiday of the seriously ill a little more bearable.
In the neighborhood of under 7 hours, almost 3400 meals were assembled and delivered to 2014 homes; not just for clients, but for a guest, caregiver and children under 18 living in those homes. Not to be forgotten are the countless hours spent by the staff, prepping and cooking those meals.
Volunteerism. My dear friend Karen says sometimes she thinks that it is actually not a selfless act, but more a self satiating one, for the need it fills in all of us to help others. I cannot argue that point, for as amazing as receiving these meals is for those in need, the way we felt yesterday morning was a greater gift than we could ever provide. The people we met are veterans; most volunteers for this org are staff volunteers, meaning they work a set weekly shift, many more than one. The spirit of both having fun and the seriousness of the task is second to no other volunteer experience I have ever had. These are the kind of people we aspire to be. There is no place I can imagine spending Thanksgiving morning ever again. I have taken a big swig of this koolaid and nothing has ever tasted better!
Full disclosure, the over the top icing on the cake of this experience for us was that our oldest child, Jana, is the newest member of the GLWD staff. As a volunteer specialist, she took her special brand of camp counselor people skills and ran around with her clipboard and iPad, learning the ropes as the newbie in the dept. In the few short months that she has worked there she has experienced their gala fundraiser, worked the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, The Race to Deliver AND survived Sandy and her aftermath where they lost power and scrambled to save food and still deliver to those in need. Watching her do a job she loves AND being able to participate… Priceless!
Post Sandy has made me very reflective. I have yet to be able to finish my thoughts on that experience and get them down here, but I will. For now, I can say that being so incredibly fortunate surrounded by so much need has left me feeling highly motivated to do more. This chronic volunteer is ready to kick it up another notch. There is something about ground level, specific task driven volunteerism that leaves you feeling like nothing else.
The world is pretty broken, go out and fix a little piece.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and consider donating a portion of what you save on Black Friday to those in need. Hey GLWD is a good place to consider.