Monday, October 11, 2010

I've got the bug for community service

...and it is a wonderful feeling to have. When I was growing up, I knew something was amiss in my life. I enjoyed helping others, but it never seemed to fill me up or the feeling wasn't permanent enough.

I wasn't able to pinpoint that until I joined my fraternity. One of the requirements for becoming a brother was to do community service. My first task was to help clean up the sponsored mile on a highway. I was struck by how committed the brothers were in cleaning up the trash, no matter what was thrown out by drivers who could not be bothered to dispose their unwanted items properly.

Then, I had an idea and organized a blood drive (using my job connections) for the students and I called on the brothers to bleed for Red Cross. First time ever I had donated blood. I felt good afterward...REALLY good.

After I graduated from college, I felt a little "lost" for a while. I thought it was because I didn't have a structured life (school, fraternity, job, thesis, dorm life, hijinks, etc.). I was asked by a friend to become Athletic Director (A.D.) for a deaf club and when I started serving as A.D., that's when I realized what was missing in my life.

I've been an A.D., a Chairperson, a Manager, a Committee Member, a Vice President, a President, and a Consultant for various clubs and organizations. I stopped being very active because a certain person contributed to me not being on any board anymore (kept going after me with claims such as lying, not serving with best interests for everyone, dereliction of duties, etc.) except for a a certain committee on which I am the presiding Chairperson.

Never understood why that psycho wouldn't leave me alone. Maybe the psycho can't stand me or fears me. I had previously worked under the psycho at a job for almost 3 years until I quit 5 years ago when I wasn't happy with how the psycho was handling things. Whatever.

That feeling of I wasn't useful or something...started to creep back into my life. I wasn't aware of that. Just wanted nothing to do with the psycho, so I stopped going to clubs and organizations whereever that psycho was. I was burned out, done.

Spring of '10 was the genesis - a man in his 40's started going around the neighborhood, begging to mow people's lawn so he could eat. Sometimes, he would offer a reduced fee when he didn't have any gas in his lawnmower and borrowed gas from them. I didn't always have the cash to hire him (which I felt badly about every time), but I got an idea. I waited until he came to my house again and when he did, I explained my idea to him. He wasn't sure about this, but I told him that it was my idea and I was willing to do this.

The idea? I left a full 5-gallon gas can on the porch so he could come over and fill up his lawnmower any time and then go beg other people while his lawnmower has a full tank. I told him that I ask nothing from him in return so he could pay it forward by mowing elderly people's lawns either for free or at a reduced fee. When I first saw him that spring, he was skinny. Now? He's well-fed. ;)

I have mulling over this idea (not originally mine) that targets the elderly people who do not have the means to take care of their properties (porch needs to be painted, doors need to be fixed, and so forth), but I am not sure how they could help pay it forward. Can anyone suggest how the elderly people could help in other ways?


Welcome to the Garden of Egan said...

You are sorta more than awesome.

nitebyrd said...

Get an audio history from the elderly. Have them recount one or two really memorable/important times in their lives. Make sure to include where they were born, grew up, etc. I know that you're deaf but you could get help while recording or videotaping. Right?

This is something I'd wished I'd done when my mother and aunts were still alive.

The history that they will share is fascinating and helpful for future generations.

DCHY said...

Garden of Egan - aww shucks (kicks at the ground)...thanks. :)

Nitebyrd - that is a wonderful idea. I have been digging into my ancestry and I wish someone had a more detailed history on our families. My maternal grandmother was the "historian" but her mementos got all split up among her two sons upon death 35 years ago. When my dad died 14 years ago, I got the other half and it was through my collaboration with my uncle this past summer that we began to piece together the missing pieces of the family tree.

Becky Andrews said...

I think many who are elderly have such wisdom and an ability (or don't have a choice) to slow down and listen. So many young people need and want someone to listen to them.