Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why We Serve

It was something small; an interaction that in any other circumstance I'd have forgotten long ago. But seeing that woman on the side of the street waving at our non-distinct, industrial van and shouting, "Thank ya'll for coming down to help us in 'Nawlins!" made me pause and deeply reflect on why volunteerism on every level is so vital.

The ironic thing is that we weren't pulling into her driveway, tools in hand; rather, her house was lost from line of sight after a few moments of proceeding down the narrow, winding New Orleans roads. Moreover, she didn't even know for sure that we were volunteers--didn't know we'd traveled over a thousand miles from a blustery state called Minnesota from a college called Hamline, sponsored by an office called OSLV. Still, when our van rumbled past (perhaps a little bit too fast) this woman still produced her biggest smile and warmest welcome.

There are some twenty of us in this group; we will not single-handedly dredge up the Ninth Ward from its desolation or solve any of the complicated socio-political tensions that exist in this city. But provide an old woman with a reassurance that the nation hasn't forgotten about her city; that people are still here to help?

That's why we serve.


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