One of the routes we sometimes used to take on our morning drive to school ran through a part of town that was hospitable to people in need of a place to sit during the day. We often talked about putting together nonperishable snacks and necessities that we could have handy to offer to the folks we came to recognize day after day. It was one of those intentions that we got fired up about, but we never followed through with action. We like to think of ourselves as caring, helpful, even charitable people, but we never followed through on this simple idea despite the fact that we had the desire and the means. I think it was the simple details of execution that stalled us – when and where should we start? Would we offend people by assuming that they needed something from our privileged white asses? Was it safe? These are legitimate questions, but they need not have been paralyzing.
Nevertheless, we did not take action toward our intended goal until an opportunity presented itself wherein the details had been organized by somebody who was organized… an organization!
When I told the kids about a monthly outreach event that was very similar to that idea we used to talk about on the drive to school, they were both immediately on board. The three of us showed up at 10 am on a Sunday morning, not knowing exactly what to expect, but ready to help. We were early (what?!) so were among the first to show up, which gave us the opportunity to meet the organizer and express our low-key angst about not knowing what to do in the same breath that we voiced our willingness to do anything and everything that anyone asked. We were the perfect peons, and we were put right to work.
|organizing blanket and clothing donations|
|stuffing zip lock bags with small stacks of wipes|
|and rolling socks|
|while others rolled burritos|
We hauled the bags outside and set them up next to the burrito station so that folks could walk through and grab both on their way over to check out the clothes, blankets, dog food, feminine hygiene products that were theirs for the taking. There were also volunteers set up to give haircuts, and mentors available for conversation and support.
In no time at all, the bags were gone and we helped clean up the spaces that had been used for this fleeting, humbling experience. We had new conversations to ruminate, feelings to process, and productive ideas to nourish. As we walked back to the car, hungry and sweaty and inspired, we brainstormed ideas for what we would do to make the next outreach even better. We have so much to give, and so much to do. We are so grateful for all that we have and all that we can give, and to have finally begun to pay it forward.
Brunch Club 10.16.16