During a recent morning visit to Clifton, and after my habitual cappuccino at Corner Drug Café, I went by the Lutheran Sunset Ministries campus to pay a visit to some of the people who work there and are responsible for the extraordinary care that LSM has been providing to seniors in the area for 65 years.
As should be expected, all facilities were closed to visitors and I had to limit my naïve attempts to unannounced socializing to a couple of voice mails left while standing at the very gates of those I sought to greet.
I did, however, recognize a familiar face semi hidden behind an annoying but necessary mask that has become an accessory de rigueur. Mrs P was leaving her residence hall, carrying a large paper bag that I offered to help bring to her car. Filled with canned goods and a variety of other food stuff, the bag was heavy. Perhaps too heavy for a lady her age, I thought. In the back seat were a handful of additional heavy paper bags that clearly took Mrs P as many trips to transport to the vehicle.
It turned out that on that cold morning Mrs P was getting ready to deliver a donation to the charity of her choice, as she had been doing come rain or come shine for a long time. Delivering the goods was just the last part of a process that at least involved collecting, storing, packing, and transporting them every week. Mrs P was not one to shy away. The deed needed to be done, and one day she just volunteered to do it.
What a beautiful concept volunteering is. Freely giving time and labor for community service. It takes innumerable forms and people do it for many reasons. But whether the motivation is to make new friends, to give back, to feel part of something, to enhance one’s resumé, or simply to help others, the end result is that volunteering changes lives. It changes the lives of the volunteers themselves as well as of the beneficiaries of their selflessness.
I am the first to admit that I have not been as consistent and effective a volunteer as Mrs P. Seeking to find the perfect cause, the most impactful action, or the greater need, I many times lose sight of the humble yet immense satisfaction that comes from making a difference in someone’s life, even to a single person, even just one paper bag at a time.
The Discretely column by Eduardo Berdegué is published monthly in newspapers throughout the Heart of Texas region.