Posted on 04/18/2019 at 05:08 PM by YMCA of Greater Des Moines
Written by Sarah Wigen, Community Engagement Director at the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus, for their volunteers at their inaugural Volunteer Recognition Brunch.
Times are tough. The world we live in can feel cold, overwhelming, sad, and difficult to bear. Perhaps we might be tempted to bury our heads underneath giant piles of blankets on our beds and not get up until things feel brighter. Resisting and persisting can be exhausting and we might be tempted to feel doomed or figure out whom to blame.
But that is not the view I have from here. I spy reasons for hope at every table in this dining room and beyond.
I see volunteers taking action to create a community of hope, dignity, support, and belonging. You could say that folding clothes, washing dishes, picking up trash, calling bingo, and making cards is child’s play compared to the overarching issue of eliminating homelessness but, as Anne Lamott says, “I would thank you for sharing and get back to doing what is possible. Those who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it.”
And you, volunteers, are doing it.
You lean in to the work to be done, bringing your enthusiasm and kindness right along with you. A theme for the awardees we will recognize today is that each one “notices”. Humbly, quietly, they observe and assist. Not for this brunch here this morning, but for people – each and every day. Our worthiness, our connection, our community, our ties to one another – the knowledge that everyone deserves a place to call home.
You see the gaps and you address them. You know that our pantry offers dignity, so you make it the best little department store in town. You see that our kitchen is low on utensils and serving dishes and you bring them. You know that a handmade card brings joy to the recipient weeks after your volunteer time on campus.
You roll your sleeves up and do the work to create this place and I am inspired by your willingness to be fully present for the long haul. This work cannot happen overnight.
To quote Anne Lamott again: “By showing up with hope to help others, you guarantee that hope is present. Then your own hope increases. By creating hope for others, you end up awash in the stuff.”
You make it possible, volunteers, for us to experience a fuller, brighter, more connected home. You support allows us to achieve what we thought might be just daydreaming; you have paved the way for tremendous growth here on our campus.
You believe in people and you leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of lifting up our fellow humans. You understand the value and worth of digging in to support this fragile population we serve. It is an honor to observe and be part of the incredible work you do.
Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Thank you, volunteers, for every act of caring you bring to us. It is an unending joy to know you.