Now that most of my family lives out-of-state, I often complain about the travel costs and infrequency of our visits. Whenever we’re together we try to cram in as much as possible, and on a recent trip to see my parents this included volunteering as part of my annual birthday gift to my dad. This year, he and I would be spending time at Westside CARES, a Colorado nonprofit where he serves on the board of directors. Even though I knew it would be worthwhile and that I’d enjoy the time with him, I wasn’t 100% enthusiastic about having to wake up to an alarm while on vacation. But such is the life of a non-morning person.
Googling Westside CARES beforehand, I read that they offer food, clothing, shelter, medical attention, and financial assistance to those in need. Such a wide range of services made it difficult to know what to expect. I envisioned a chaotic room with people scurrying around to serve soup, distribute clothes, lay out cots, and apply bandages. What I saw instead was much more remarkable. I hope you will read the full piece I wrote with more details about what I observed and the impactful contributions of Westside CARES.
I expected to walk away from volunteering feeling fulfilled at having done good, but instead I felt sad and guilty. I had just had a front row seat to people struggling to find warmth or their next meal, yet here I was worrying about bills and childcare. I’d been resentful that my husband and I aren’t able to buy a bigger house right now, not appreciative that we have a great place to live in the first place. And I’d complained about having to board a plane in order to see my family, not grateful for the means to board that plane or that I have such a great family to visit.
So not to sound preachy, but just to preach for a second… Perhaps a shift in perspective can do a huge amount of good. I, for one, want to remember that every day is a gift, especially when it begins in a warm bed and ends with a full tummy. There is a lot to be thankful for, and I am glad Westside CARES reminded me of that.