Sometimes on this blog I offer safety tips, talk about local events or things that happened in history, but today I want to talk about something a little bit more personal. I'm down in Phoenix for a few weeks working remotely and the community that Sandy and I have our home in here has a few different volunteer opportunities. Last night, they needed help at a downtown Phoenix rescue mission.
Eight of us from the neighborhood volunteered help with and serve dinner to the clients of this shelter. The work itself wasn't too difficult. I was the "Roll Guy", tasked with giving each diner a dinner roll or a biscuit (it was tough, but someone had to do it). While we were on the way there one of the other volunteers remarked that the diners at this soup kitchen are all very polite. Some of them made eye contact and responded with a genuine "thank you" for the roll. Others remained silent and still others, if they didn't want a rolls, just walked by my station in the food line. One man who didn't have any teeth asked if they were soft, otherwise he couldn't eat one.
As the dinner went on, I was perplexed as to the proper response to their "thank yous". How does one make polite conversation, after all it was just a roll? "Have a good evening" didn't seem appropriate as for all I knew that could mean a night sleeping on a bench and I was heading home to a house, a TV and a bed. Though the evenings in Phoenix are still mild, compared to the blessings I have that response seemed almost cruel. After a while, I settled on "You're welcome". Pretty dull.
We served for about an hour and a half, and then a bit of cleanup. When all was said and done, it was about three and a half hours there and back. It feels good to, in a very small way, make a difference in a hundred or so folks' day. It made me count my blessing and also realize that each and every one of those guys (there were only a handful of women) have a story to tell. How did they get there? Was it drugs, alcohol, mental illness or a bad economy and a string of down luck? Regardless of the way, I know each of them needed to be treated with dignity and respect. For through some cruel trick of fate, they are where they are and I am where I am. Worlds apart in daily experiences and comforts.
In a day, we have 24 hours, and of that we spend about 8 working and 8 sleeping, meaning we have 8 hours left to do what we please. It is great to be able to use a small portion of that to help others. If everyone could give 4 hours per month, just think what could be accomplished in our town and in our country.
Thanksgiving is just three weeks off, we all need to be thankful, but the second part of that word is "giving"...