Heading home from a few days of manual labor was harder than I expected. When I got on the plane for Houston, I was ready for a couple days of hard, sweaty work in the Texas heat, and I hoped that I could make it through. I knew I’d feel good about giving back and doing my part, but I expected to be fed up and ready for home.
But in reality, I didn’t want to leave. I had been inspired by the other volunteers I had met. I felt a comradery with people who had until 3 days ago been complete strangers. I felt like I was leaving something special, and my heart wanted to stay and keep contributing; to keep feeling like a part of something bigger.
One of our team had a special reminder about just how important it was to contribute. On her way to the airport, she struck up a conversation with the driver. It turns out that she was still without a home, almost a year later, and was still trying to figure out how to find the money to repair the house her and her family had shared. The need is still deep, and people are desperately trying to find a solution, even as Houston looks healed from the outside. A quick look under the surface shows a community that still is struggling.
For me personally, the lesson was really clear: just show up and lend a hand. It might be in Houston, in Puerto Rico, or just helping a neighbor in need in your own community. But that effort matters, no matter how small it is. To someone in need and in search of a way forward, a helping hand makes a big difference. If you want to come lend a hand with us on our next adventure, let us know! Contact us
to let us know you want to come!
But the most amazing lesson was how much we received by giving. Our contribution was so small - only a few days of work. But we left with inspiration; with an overflowing energy; with a reminder of why community is so meaningful; and with a reminder that all one needs in order to regain perspective and meaning is give a bit of yourself to someone else.
On my way out the door of the volunteer base for the last time, I spotted a wall where volunteers from the past 11 months had drawn outlines of their hands with a message. It was so special to see how many people had come to give their energy, and who had experienced the same inspiration that I was feeling. I’d never meet most of them, but we are connected through time and space by that simple act of just showing up. I’ll hold on to the feeling for quite awhile - the feeling of family, belonging, and the inspiration to keep making an effort. It really does matter, and we can’t afford to forget that.