It's your birthday. You're thirty-ish. It falls on a Saturday. How would you celebrate? Are you sleeping in? Maybe going to a movie or a concert? You might be going to a bar or a club?
Chances are you aren't going to a homeless shelter and cooking enough lasagna to feed fifty people. And yet, that's what my friend did last Saturday. And yet, she didn't do it because those other options weren't available. That's what she wanted to do and likes to do. Let's face it, if there's food involved on a birthday, the person celebrating is the one being served...not the one serving.
This wasn't so unusual. She also volunteers to teach a yoga and a knitting class at the same shelter.
When you're running a homeless shelter, you need a dedicated group of volunteers to help. It's understated just how important this group is. If you have thirty-five residents, you'll need to feed them 365 days each year. It breaks down to more than 38,000 breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Who buys the food? Who prepares the food? Volunteers!
It's not just meals.....you need people to answer phones and stay overnight. Volunteers!
What if you want to provide services besides housing? What if you want to hold classes to help people deal with addiction, physical and mental health issues, financial problems, getting their GED and the other issues that led them into homelessness? Who teaches those classes? Volunteers!
And yes, the people who teach the fun classes like Yoga, knitting, writing and music appreciation....Volunteers!
By the way, this volunteering thing isn't totally selfless. Helping people makes you feel good. When you're done with a session and it goes well, the good feelings go deep into your soul. Nothing at all wrong with that. It's a win/win!
It's not hard to get involved. Just Google whatever your interest is and you'll find lots of opportunities. But since this is a Faces of Homelessness piece, here's the link to the Lincoln Park Community Services Volunteer page. It lets you know how you can get involved and join the almost 1,500 people that are providing thousands of hours of services each year.
So to my lasagna making friend. Thanks for all the yoga, knitting and all the other things you do. Oh yeah, and thanks for Tuesday nights dinner. Happy Birthday!
Related Post: Even at Thanksgiving, giving thanks isn't easy
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