Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Good Community Yarn

This post is a true Yarn From the Southland. No fiber, no knitting, no crochet. A yarn in the sense of a good story about how I spent my day. And the lesson I learned. Today I was privileged to be a professional volunteer. I was part of a community review team that visited two nonprofits in the area.

Our team is just one of many that goes out and visits good organizations that have applied for funds to continue good works. We review programs, speak with members of the Board of Directors, interact with each Executive Director, walk around the facility, and ask questions. The goal is to gather information that supports the application for funding.

One facility my team visited today was a home for women recovering from substance abuse. Just walking into the yard of the house felt like coming home. This particular house is not an institution. It is a home. I was truly impressed by a program that expects 24/7 cooperation and educates women on how to lead a sober life. This is just one of three group homes in the area.

In addition to the professionals and Board members, we met women who are graduates of the program. Graduates! And they are employed full time, volunteering and giving back, reuniting with family and helping other women to pull it together. Most impressive.

Let me not gloss over that the graduates and current participants of the program are volunteers in their community. Women working to overcome - - and giving back as a part of the recovery process. We were excitedly shown the storage area where the current program participants are gathering supplies that they will use to participate in a community art event. So very impressive.

Here were women who are accepting help and learning to live a new path - - and all they could think about was how much fun it will be to help children discover art and explore creativity. These women will make it! They will live clean and sober because they are now focused outward! They have learned, through this program, that giving to others is healing to self.

I drove out to this site visit thinking that I was doing good - - helping to decide which programs deserve support. Having input as to where dwindling dollars will have the greater outcome. Basically patting my self on the back for being a professional volunteer.

I drove away from this site visit with a new understanding of what it means to do good. What it truly means to give back. Words can not explain the emotion; words can not convey the paradigm shift. Those who have so little are giving back so much.

Let today be more than a good story - more than just a yarn from the southland of California. Let it be a renewed commitment to look outward and give more than I take.

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