Earlier this year I was sent an email about a pilot program for veteran students to help out in their communities, through the Americorps organization.
(Having come back from Guatemala prior to this semester commencing, I was on an all time giving high.)
I saw this as a perfect match for what I do here with IHeartTravel, so I went to find out more. Roughly a week later I was signed up with Americorps and ready to help out in any way I could.
Its been about a month and a half since I joined, and volunteering has been on the slim side due to school priorities. However I have been searching around to get lined up with community based organizations.
One such group was actually initiated by a professor (Kris) that helped me out big time with her charismatic personality, and desire to bring more harmony/love to the world. Last year her class widened my outlook on what life could be, and really supported me through my time of need with my failed relationship.
When I was introduced to this group I immediately wanted to get involved. The name of the group was titled "Be the change: Rhode Island" and its mission was "participating in random acts of kindness within our communities."
This group is still getting off the ground, but the people behind it are great people with a desire to help and give back. Being very much in line with their core focus, I told them they could count on me for any opportunities they might have!
This last weekend was my first shot to work with them, and do something AMAZING!
Kris got a hold of a local group who helps pass out food to homeless individuals in the capitol city of Rhode Island, Providence.
When I had envisioned helping out stateside, I definitely wanted to lend a helping hand to the homeless community. Homelessness has become something I see more and more of since the economy took a tumble a couple of years back.
My state happens to be one of the states in the country with the worst unemployment rates. I see the people effected from time to time when I drop off my daughter at her grandparents house, which is closely located to providence.
I can't help but look at these individuals and try to help in some form. I spare my change when I can, but for me this is never enough. I know there is more that can be done, and I am thankful for the organizations helping out these people
so last Friday now instead of just sparing some money, I was able to help them in some form. I donated some of my time to help pass out food to those living on the streets, and shelters of providence.
The organization with whom we volunteered is named 'Breadlines' they're a faith based group of older individuals (which was truly incredible) that get together and collect/make, food for the homeless.
They gather every other Friday and pass out food at three locations around the city.
When we arrived we were introduced to the members of the Breadlines group, we could see a quickly growing line of people awaiting some good food, and we quickly setup to start handing it out.
The people and the experience were truly great!
however it was at the first location that one interaction made this evening something special!
I was the designated pastry person, I handed out donuts and homemade cookies ( I know not the healthiest, but quite popular!). About half way through the line after quick exchanges with the various people in line, one man struck a quick conversation with myself and the woman next to me (I apologize I'm horrendous with names).
We went back and forth about the beautiful day it had been, and other small talk, after this quick exchange the man left with one last piece of advice...... he said:
" You have to be thankful, you have to smile, why? Smile because life is to short to do otherwise"
What he said hit me like a ton of bricks (good bricks)!
Here I was with about half a dozen volunteers handing out food to these great people, each doing it for our own purposes, and each doing some good within our community.
What I did not expect, was someone in that line to give back to me!
and that's exactly what that man did. I gave him some pastries, but what he gave me was much greater, he gave me words of wisdom, words that inspired, and words that reinforce what I believe in life.
See those words coming from this particular person reaffirmed something to me. It doesn't matter what your situation may be, you have the ability to make yourself happy.
We all face hardships, but how and in what demeanor we face these obstacles, can determine who we are and what we become.
I am extremely honored to have served these people, and will definitely do it again, and again , and again!
I'm already a pretty happy guy, but in those moments when negativity strikes, I will remember these words, and smile, because life is indeed to short!