Doesn't Live Here
IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2007
THE TRADITION OF SERVICE
12 December 2007
I may have been involved in what might be called "service activities" while I was in grammar school, but if so I don't remember. I honestly don't remember if my mother, who has been such an active volunteer with Hospice of Marin for the past 20 years or more, was ever involved in any regular community service, other than supporting Karen and me in our various school activities, when I was growing up.
My father certainly never was.
But I got a good dose of "service" when I went to high school. The Daughters of Charity (who are not, strictly speaking, nuns, though I can't remember the difference -- I used to know it) are primarily a service-based religious order and so "service" was a big part of what we were encouraged to participate in during our four years at St. Vincent High School.
My job was to accompany Sister Anne (my typing teacher and lifelong friend) when she delivered lunches to poor people in the area around the school. I don't remember most of them, but I do remember Pat Cleary, an older blind man who lived in an apartment about three blocks from the school. He was my favorite and I loved going with her to bring lunch to Pat.
There was also a Chinese family -- mother, father, and 8 children -- who lived in a one-room apartment in a slum house which was later torn down to build luxury condos. When the family decided to become Catholic, I was godmother for two of the children, I remember.
So anyway, I got a good basis for service, which I've tried to continue throughout my life, with more or less success, depending on what else was happening, or my mental attitude at the time. My mother has been a wonderful inspiration, something I always wanted to be for my children and don't know if I really succeeded. I think some of them felt, when they were growing up, that it was more an irritant that I wasn't home than that it was something they aspired to participate in.
I really have felt that you get so much more than you give when you get out and help someone else. I have often felt like a piker in this regard, when I look at some of the friends I have in town (like Ellen and Shelly) who give so much of themselves to others all year long. I'm ashamed that I am basically too lazy to do as much as they do.
I've worked at the homeless shelter, driven HIV+ clients to doctors' appointments, and now work with the puppies, but really my contribution to the community pales in comparison to so many other people I know.
In the past Walt adopted a child each year at Christmas time, through his office, and bought a Christmas gift for that child. For some reason they didn't do that last year and now, of course, he's retired. I decided that I should contact STEAC (rhymes with "stake"), Davis' Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee, working since 1967 to help families or individuals whose income is below the poverty level.
I've heard of STEAC forever, since the group was nearly 10 years old when we moved here. I always had the nagging thought that I should get involved, but I never have. The homeless shelter is an arm of STEAC, but I didn't even know where the main office was.
Around Thanksgiving, I sent a note via STEAC's web site offering to adopt a family. A week ago, I realized I had never heard back from anyone, so I contacted them again and learned that all the families had been allocated, but the director offered me a chance to help with the collection of food and gift boxes. All it involved was checking the boxes in as they arrived at the distribution center, the local Baptist Church.
I was hardly an essential cog in the wheel today. I worked a 2 hr shift, and my assignment was to take checks that were delivered with the boxes of food, mark that they had been brought in and wishing the deliverers a Happy Holiday.
Today was day one of three and the amount that had come in by the time I left wasn't all that impressive
but they say that by the end of the three days for collection, this room will be filled to capacity, with only walkways between the rows of boxes.
(from STEAC's web site--this is what the room looked
There are more than 600 families on the list that I had and a long list of food items that each adopting family is requested to purchase. It's really very heartening to see the overwhelming community response.
At noon, someone went out to the local Dos Coyotes restaurant, which was volunteering to send lunch to all the volunteers. They brought back several box lunches which were delicious.
(The thing wrapped in silver is half of one of Dos Coyotes' fabulous burritos)
The best part about being there today, though, was listening to all of these STEAC volunteers talking about the things they were doing and feeling those old stirrings again, the need to get out and do something with my life other than sitting home and feeding puppies.
I've volunteered to go through their telephone training (training for how to screen calls about people needing assistance and set the applicants up for short-term aid) after the first of the year. I have a feeling it's a foot in the door and, knowing me, will lead to greater involvement in STEAC as I begin to find where I fit into my own little niche.
It's time to get out of the house...
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Daisy is just getting so big--or maybe it's only
This is entry #2814