Monday, January 19, 2009

Were Your Eyes Opened?

"Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve." Martin Luther King Jr.
It started as a simple thought, "let's participate in the National Day of Service." We chose The Center in Asbury Park, NJ a residence for individuals with HIV/AIDS. The posting on the website for the National Day of Service said they needed canned goods and hats and scarfs. We drove over to ask them what they really needed. Colleen and Bob, two volunteers, met us at the door and gave us a tour. The care and concern for everyone who walked through the doors was immediate. Throughout the tour, meeting and acknowledging residents and volunteers alike, everyone was smiling and upbeat. The Center opens the doors to help many others who are not residents and have an amazing food pantry. But Colleen took us into another storage room. "What we don't have are basic toiletries. There is no deoderant, shampoo, or especially in this cold weather, skin lotion." A list in our hands, we left with the awareness that we take so much for granted. Two more messages awaited us on our service day.
Filling our basket full at a local CVS we told the woman behind the register what we were doing. She was thrilled and glad that we were helping out. Then shared her story of having been very wealthy, but she went through a divorce and spent all of her remaining money on health care for her mother who had no insurance. Now she wasn't sure how to pay the bills. But she thanked us for helping others. We walked out more aware of our health and our insurance.
Stepping out the door of the CVS we were asked for money. A "train ticket" was the reason he told us. But after giving him a little cash we watched as he walked into the nearby Burger King to get something to eat. Now we were conscious that we are always able to eat.
The Center was very grateful for the donations, but the residents especially were overjoyed with the candy. Colleen tipped us off that they rarely got treats and the residents loved them. The little bags of chocolate bars were the highlight. Amazing the things that make a day special.
Service opens eyes. It opened mine. So, what did you do today? Were your eyes opened.

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