Throughout my life, I have in one way or another been involved with volunteering and community service.
Whether it was in my early teens visiting retirement communities with my church youth group, Saturday morning clean up with the Key Club in high school after a Friday night football game, serving as a Big Brother in college, maintaining hiking trails with the local chapter of the Sierra Club, taking the kids at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls out for a “funtertaining” event, facilitating a warm meal and place to stay overnight for the homeless at the Carpenter’s Shelter, volunteering and working to help Gallery 5 Arts in Jackson Ward (Richmond, VA), helping 2nd graders improve their reading skills through a Reading Star Program, or playing in a golf tournament to help raise funds for a young child needing brain surgery, I’ve been giving back.
However, since I’ve moved to Austin recently, I now feel it’s time to give back more than I have been giving around here, and I am acting upon it with full conviction of this purpose.
One of my latest community service outings was working in the warehouse for the Central Virginia Food Bank. Our task was to sort and filter the various types of food donated from a common bin, organize, and place the items in a bin designated for them. For example, tomato soup has its own bin, as does chicken noodle soup, and green beans, and corn, and beets, and potatoes, spaghetti, peanut butter, etc. While I was working away, a feeling came to me that had been missing for some time. It was a feeling of accomplishment in serving a greater good for my fellow man and community. And just as the feeling came to me, I said to the other volunteers around me “I almost forgot how good this feels. I could do this every day.”
I am neither a saint nor a savior. I am merely a humble servant in this world with my flaws and imperfections, but I do find great comfort and peace within that I now choose to serve more. And as I write this message and share with you all, I hope that you too will want to serve more because our world needs it.
My reaffirmation to serve did not come from myself alone. It also manifested through the example of other friends such as Deona volunteering with Meals on Wheels, Mark and Shelli working with the kids at Mind Games, Wayne feeding the homeless in Monroe Park every Sunday, Tom and Amanda providing a place to transcend artistic boundaries in the Richmond community, and Stan going to Guatemala on a mission to help improve living conditions for families there.
These are just a handful of volunteer and community service examples I have witnessed and encountered recently. I know there are many more, so I encourage you to share with me and others reading, your stories of serving and giving back to the community.
In closing, I believe the quote below compliments my note rather appropriately.
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer
Here’s to you all who have lit, and will continue to light the flame in me and others. Spark on!