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  • Writer's picturerevksashby

Restoring Faith in Humanity

               One of the best things I do is volunteer in the community.  It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our own lives, but a couple of times a month, my daughter and I spend about three hours at one of our local organizations that not only provides food but a host of other services as well.  I serve as a shopping assistant, helping clients through the pantry to pick out what they need that week.  I always hope that I am bringing human care and attention to our clients no matter what their day is like.

                In a time when we are increasingly suspicious of each other and of people’s motivations, our clients restore my faith in humanity.  I get to know some of them and strive to treat each one the way I would want to be treated if I needed to ask for help in public settings. Our society makes very broad cultural assumptions about people who are poor and in need, and my experience provides a counterpoint to some of those assumptions.

               Here are a few vignettes that I can share, since they won’t point to any client in particular.  We protect confidentiality fiercely, even to the point where my daughter and I have had extensive conversations about what she should do if someone she knows from school should ever come in for assistance with their parent. Everyone’s right to privacy matters.

               One client recently picked up a large cucumber, then put it back and chose a smaller one, saying, “Larger families could use the bigger cucumber… there are just two of us.”  A client told me she just loved coming because when we shop together, she feels a lot more joyful and happy, not just with what she’s able to take home, but especially in talking and laughing together.  Other clients respectfully ask about what they’re able to take, and check in to be sure if it feels like too much.  When we’re able to give extras of something, clients are deeply grateful.  Most clients tell me each time that they’re okay on a certain item, so won’t take it because they want to make sure others have the opportunity to have enough.

               I’d never been there at coat giveaway time before – to see children excited to have a new coat for the winter was awesome!  One teen girl tried on several – so many looked good to her and on her.  It was obvious she hadn’t had the ability to choose something in so long that she wasn’t sure what to do.  When we told the adults that we had enough for them to take one too, it was like Christmas!  Our parent clients are always focused on taking care of their children and making sure they have what they need.  It’s a joy to be able to help take care of that parent. 

               It’s one of the most important things I do in my life these days, to volunteer and give my time in service to others.  It dispels careless assumptions I could make, and it reminds me that we’re all humans doing our best to make it in a difficult world.  We make distinctions between us – on social class, gender, color of skin, country of origin, and more, but those don’t matter at all.  When we get into someone else’s shoes, it reminds us of what really matters.  Even if I’ve had a hard day of work, when I arrive to volunteer, I try to take all of that off and put on my most caring and joyful self.  It’s one gift I can freely give to all those I serve that day.  Serving them reminds me of who I am, whose I am, and of all the good in this world.

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