I've known this at the bone-deep level for a while. One of the biggest challenges of my Terrible Year (as I've come to view the year of my divorce) was maintaining an attitude of compassion and good will, while remembering all the blessings I still had, and the new ones that were sure to come. I was struggling to stay on the Medium Road some days - never mind the High Road - but somehow I intuited that helping someone else might be the best way out of that funk.
I had no idea what to expect, and I felt seriously unqualified the first time I showed up, as instructed, in the RTO T-shirt and jeans and boots, ready to work. Since then I've learned a number of skills (some of them involving power tools!) that have enabled me to assist in installing grab bars, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and making other small improvements. I've traveled all over my beloved adopted home town and met some incredibly selfless people, as well as members of my community who have dazzled me with their stories, their memories, their walls full of family photos, their grace and - yes - gratitude. I've had a number of preconceptions shattered, which is the second-best benefit of volunteering, after the incredible optimism boost it gives me, one that lasts long after I get home.
|unofficial mascot of the RTO crew, |
on recent rainy outing in the ol' RTO pickup
And if you need suggestions, I'll give you three.
Rebuilding Together Oakland
The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!