Beyond the Cubicle: A Volunteer Chronicle
We start the day with a hustle and bustle, some have a light breakfast with family while others grab a green smoothie after a killer 4 am workout. Getting into cars, trains, and motorcycles while you mentally prepare for your workday full of meetings, conference calls and occasional real work. Then we get to our cubicle “oh what a sweet semi-private space” having a casual conversation with the person over the wall about weekend and lunch plans to feed the social bug. What if the person on the other side of the semi-private wall didn’t have a weekend full of family time, movies and shopping? What if their weekend was spent leaving the shelter by 10 am on a Saturday to find things to do with their time until they were allowed back into the shelter at 5pm to eat, shower, and rest? What do the homeless look like? We assume they look like a person on the street in dirty clothes, worn out shoes and disheveled hair. But what if they wore a suit, jeans and work boots, a uniform or snazzy business attire daily.
I have had the privilege to be able to volunteer and serve in my community and also work for the betterment of those that are in a place of transition. I met a man that worked daily to help feed his family and just didn’t have enough and slept in his car with his family for three weeks until they could get beds in a family shelter. I met a woman that has 4 kids and goes to work daily to return to a homeless shelter at night, she works as a cashier at a fast food restaurant. She didn’t look homeless, she didn’t smell homeless, and she serves people food daily with a smile and retreats daily to room with twin beds and cots with other women and timed showers. She doesn’t get the privilege at the end of her long day to take a hot bubble bath and soak her aching feet and feed her babies at a table and enjoy the stories of the day. Most will read this sit back and recline and think that person couldn’t be me. Actually, that person could be your sister, friend, mother, and yes that person could be you. We are all one moment away from a change and that change could be for the better or that change could have a domino effect on your life and lead you to seek refuge in a homeless shelter. Now what motivates me to volunteer, you ask? My motivation beyond just knowing how blessed I truly am and having an understanding that we are all here to work together is that my life can change in a moment and what would I want to have contributed to this world. I found a way to use a gift that I have or an area that I am passionate about to share with others. I decided that I would teach a women’s empowerment class. It came to my attention as a woman of the community we need to seek ways to reach out and encourage our sisters in transition.
A lot of times basic needs are met but women of our community still need the encouragement and confidence to look beyond their current situation and gain tools to help build self-confidence, develop dreams and goals, and cultivate inner and outer beauty. I did some research and put my PowerPoint, planning, presentation and research skills to use. I didn’t know how my class would be received but I was hopeful that my passion and light would shine through. At my first class, I had 5 students by my 4th class I had 8 students and I get 1 or 2 new ladies each class. I wouldn’t say it’s a success yet but its progress. I think this experience has been more beneficial for me as a business professional, mother and active member of my community than those I teach once a week for an hour. I have learned more about people, love, determination, and humility than I could read in 10 books or take in any development conference. It doesn’t take being a trained professional to get out and serve your community it just takes a moment to make a decision to move beyond your cubicle. Look into your skills and access where you can be of the most service to your community, it’s more to life than just giving money it’s about committing to be more, do more, and contribute more to the betterment of the world around us.