OK, I am taking the luxury of sleeping in this morning and getting to the food bank later than usual. The office is not normally staffed on weekends, but it is this weekend.
Here is a bit of background on the Texas trip. Basically, I was deeply effected by Katrina and felt rather powerless to do anything besides donate money. I had considered volunteering at the Red Cross to do a stint in Louisiana but it required a three-week committment. I felt that three weeks was more than I could do though. Then it struck me that I was flying to San Antonio at the end of the month for training for work and I realized that San Antonio was in need of help like many other Texas cities and towns that are trying to help the Katrina evacuees. I decided to take a week of vacation and fly down early to help out where I could. The San Antonio Food Bank responded enthusiastically to my enquiry and so I have been here since Sept. 19 doing what I can. Since I am in IT and am “computer-savvy” they asked if I would help in their Admin Office because they have been overwhelmed with processing all of the paperwork and directing so many folks for food assistance. Sure thing.
I have learned so much about what these people offer and how much backend work, invisible to most, is required to keep all of the machinery of the operation going. I have such a deep respect for these people and the work they do day in and day out and I feel privileged to have been welcomed into their space with so much warmth. This has been a fulfilling and learning experience in ways I didn’t even expect and inspires me to volunteer not just in times of need in the future, but to look for ways to help regularly. While we have been helping Katrina evacuees and now Rita evacuees, we also deal with the daily lack that many locals deal with as well. Be it a food bank, or the Red Cross or any other aid organization, they are dealing with many of the unseen disasters that happen every day to so many people and to see it and know it on a daily basis is eye-opening. I have had tears in my eyes on numerous occasions as do the others I work with and it gives us heart and makes us thankful for what we have.
I also want to point out that when receiving donations, we get anything from pocket change to $10,000. Obviously those big donations are a big help but the ones that always make me stop and think are the ones that have a dollar bill in an envelope that says “I’m sorry this is all I can give right now”. Every little bit counts and every donation is treated with the same respect and goes towards keeping the whole thing going.