“God isn’t going to ask you how he created the earth. He already knows. He’s going to ask, what did you do with what I created” (Loeb, 2010, p. 37). Many of us go day by day without concerning ourselves with others. We tend to go on with our daily lives by focusing on our self or our family. We don’t always worry about that person we walk by on the street, the lady in the waiting room at the hospital, or the homeless guy on the bench.
What if we stopped for a second, and asked what can I do for you? What are you going through? Many people go through different experiences in life that lead them on their path. Everyone’s path in life has detours, which can change their life for the better or for the worse. Sometimes all someone needs is for someone to show compassion and show that they care.
The Common Good in the Life of a Christian gave me a new viewpoint of what truly helping someone means.
I never realized the steps that could place you on a path in helping others from speaking up, volunteering, or by helping a neighbor. My career as a nurse allows me to share my compassion and care for others, and never realized how this truly relates to the Common Good. Volunteering at Soup or Socks also gave me a new viewpoint on how important it is helping others, especially your community, or even on a higher level.
The first major impact that I had with volunteering at Soup or Socks is when the community wrapped their arms around a church during a time of loss. One of the community churches started on fire and lost everything. This church had a respite program as well, beside other programs that were held there. When they lost the church, it was more than a building, but the love that they shared with each other in the spirit of God. One of the local hotels offered the church a place to hold their services or other programs in one of their banquet rooms. Prior to this, another church offered those church members a place to continue worship. Soup or Socks offered meals and food to the respite program to help with the needs of food for the individuals that participate.
I was impressed with how the community came together so quickly. Cheryl, the manager of Soup or Socks, was on vacation during this time. When she found out what had happened, she called immediately to ask the members of the church what type of help that they needed and that she was there to help. I just still can’t believe how a community can come together during these hard times to promote the Common Good. “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (The Holy Bible: King James Version, 2016, p. 670). God will never forget what we do for others. He will share with us how this correlates later in life. He will repay us for what we did, but no matter what, we should do what is best for everyone as often as we can.
Another impact in volunteering, was more on a personal level. The reason I state this is because when I was younger, my parents were never sure where they would get our next meal. We needed assistance in this time of our lives, because my parents made sure that we had something to eat. Sometimes it was macaroni and cheese, while other times it was sandwiches. No matter what they did, they made sure we were taken care of. The reason I bring this up is because I noticed many families that came in that had children. I was pleased to know that these families made sure that they were taking care of their children. Parents shouldn’t put their pride in front of their children. The reason I say this is there are people that feel like they are embarrassed to ask for help, and I was proud that they did what was right for their families and not just for them self. When parents make these decisions to make sure their children are taken care of, children will remember this. This leads to children that turn into adults with role models that will demonstrate they will do what they have to for what or who they love. “If we want our children to lead generous lives, we need to give them ideals to inspire them” (Loeb, 2010, p. 184). We need to be the role models for the next generation, because what we do now will affect generations to come.
The next impact that I had while I was volunteering at Soup or Socks was related to a conversation that was held between some of the volunteers and manager. This conversation addressed how the program Food Stamps only covers certain items, but not others that are necessities while others that aren’t. I mean that chips, soda, candy, and etc. Are covered under food stamps, but these items are not healthy. Other items such as soap, toilet paper, Kleenex, toothpaste, toothbrushes, cleaning products, and etc. are not covered. These items are of higher importance over junk food. These items should be considered to be added into the program to allow families in need to be able to have assistance with these items. These families should be able to address what needs are needed for their families. Every family needs are different and the parents should be able to utilize their assistance where it is necessary and of most importance. “When we fail to ask the hard questions, there’s almost always a cost” (Loeb, 2010, p. 87). This is true because if this isn’t addressed, the cost is those in need. We are concerned of health and dental care for these individuals, but why can’t we approve even a toothbrush instead of a candy bar. How does this correlate with adequate health for those in need?
Another impact for me was the different individuals and families that need help. There were individuals that came in that I work with and never realized that they were in need. How do you work with someone and truly don’t understand the struggle they are going through at home? This is where I question myself could I have helped her or was their signs that she needed somebody to listen to what was going on. People in need come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds. We truly don’t know what somebody is going through. The only person that knows what you’re going through is yourself, and sharing these experiences could be helpful for others. Life experiences are capable of teaching others and it allows them to grow personally as well. It allows them to make choices in their life, with the information you share from your own personal experiences.
There are so many ways you can help somebody, and sometimes you don’t even realize you’re doing it. “When we reflect on where we’ve been and where we’d like to go, we can rely on larger explanatory stories to provide meaning and purpose, and to frame the choices we continue to make. We envision the kind of person we’ve been, who we are, and who we’d like to become” (Loeb, 2010, p. 139). The experiences we go through and the stories we hear can affect the compassion that we have for others. This can affect who we were, who we are, and who we will be.
Another impact that I had correlates with an ethical issue. A major concern is volunteers not showing up when they state they are going to. There has been many times that volunteers didn’t show up without any notification. This is a major concern because we have less people to help others but also worry about their safety. If they are suppose to be there, did they get hurt or did they get in an accident? I believe that when you say you’re going to do something, you should do it. I read an article from Unite from Sight that this is a major concern. They confront not just showing up, but being unprofessional. ‘Unprofessional behavior is a problem amongst volunteers; indeed, it is widespread and consequential. Some case of unprofessionalism are extreme, but most are unintentional, subtle, and seemingly benign’ (Unite For Sight, n.d.).
Many volunteers don’t even realize that they are doing anything that is unprofessional. This is when others should step in and confront them individually so that these individuals realize it is a concern. This concern could change the behaviors these individuals otherwise would have never known. ‘Examples of unprofessional behavior that are particularly pertinent to volunteering include showing up late or not at all; leaving early; inappropriate dress; violation of cultural norms; being overly demanding; laziness; negligence, unreliability, a condescending, disrespectful, or arrogant attitude; and noncompliance with direction’ (Unite For Sight, n.d.).
At Soup or Socks, most of the time different churches find the volunteers for certain weeks. When unprofessionalism occurs it doesn’t just reflect on the person, but also on the organization. A big concern for me is that the manager said of Soup or Socks, is if volunteers don’t show up she can’t take the full responsibility of the volunteers. If I wasn’t there that day, most likely eleven families would have been turned away. This is eleven families that would have gone hungry and it could have been the only day that they were able to get a ride to get the much needed groceries that were needed for their families. “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight” (The Holy Bible: King James Version, 2016, p. 370). Others rely on you when you say you are going to do something. If you truly can’t keep your word, than you need to at least let others know. Don’t ever think it doesn’t matter if you show up or not, because truly others are always relying on you in some way.
Another impact that I had at Soup or Socks is the amount of food that is donated that is already expired. These items are not able to be given to others because expired items are not allowed to be handed out. Some of these items they place on a front shelf and allow others to take if they are recently expired. One of the days that I arrived at Soup or Socks, there was four full boxes of food that was going to be wasted because of expiration dates. Another day I went through a cart of food that was donated, and 1/3 of the items were expired. When people donate, they need to think about expiration dates. They just can’t give an item in the back of the cupboard that they haven’t used in ten years. The manager was discussing with me about this issue and she addressed something I never thought about.
The Rotary Winter Wonderland donates food items that they receive to numerous food pantries in the area. This allows for these food pantries to fill their shelves and be able to start the year well supplied. She said that she is proud of the amount of items she gets from these programs, but she said they just put everything in the box. The expiration dates are never checked and the amount that comes in expired is crazy. This program wants to brag about the amount of food products that are brought in. When you think deeper, what would the numbers truly be if you judged those numbers of items that could be truly utilized? This includes cans that are not dented or expired. This number would be extremely lower. I don’t want to say anything bad about Rotary Winter Wonderland, because they are truly doing something for the Common Good. The amount of items that are expired shouldn’t be okay though. A way to get around this would be checking expiration dates before being placed in boxes, or with their advertisement of this event state that no expired items will be accepted. I know this wouldn’t solve all the issues with this, but it could be a step in the right direction.
Obama stated, “It’s not just about you. It’s never just about you. It’s about people who need your help” (Loeb, 2016, p. 114). The reason I utilized this statement is related to when people donated expired items. These individuals just donate something so they can see the lights, they don’t see the bigger picture that this event is suppose to help others in the community that is in need. People tend to look at how is this going to benefit me, not how this is going to benefit my community. We learned that this world is filled of many individuals that have selfish behaviors of what is better for me, not what is better for everyone.
There was an experience that sticks out to me and I don’t truly understand the thinking of certain individuals. I wonder if maybe I’m a little harsh on this issue. There was one individual that sticks out to me that came in for food and clothing. She was very picky on what she wanted, and asked for as much extra stuff as possible. She seemed to be very greedy and didn’t care if there were others that might need help. She wanted as much as she possibly could, no matter what. This makes me question individual’s true personality and why individuals act the way they do. How can somebody that is asking for help, be so greedy and care so little about others? I wanted to see the best in her, but in situations similar to this it becomes difficult.
The final impact was something that will stick with me forever. At Soup or Socks, each individual or family has to go through an intake process to receive help. These individuals or families than wait in a room in the back until we prepared their bags of groceries. They can get food once every thirty days, with a maximum of six times per year. I never realized all the different type of people that need help. There was a large assortment of individuals. Some of these individuals had disabilities, were single parents, were elderly, or one lady moved and needed assistance to get back on her feet. I never really had much time to speak with these individuals because they were only out by me for a few moments. But the truly heartwarming part of it all, was the simple thank you or smile that they gave you when they realized that they received the assistance and knew they would have a meal tonight. I never truly realized how many families need assistance.
“Hope isn’t about the things that we can see-all the problems. It’s about the things that we can’t see, and having faith in them” (Loeb, 2010, p. 339). When I see how thankful these individual were, it gives me hope. It gives me hope that someday everyone in this world will work together to make sure everyone has a meal and shelter. It gives me hope for a better future for further generations. It only takes one person to have a small glimpse of hope, to keep people fighting for what is right in the eyes of God. We have to keep pushing, even if it is one baby step at a time.
I realized how important volunteering can be to individuals. I never felt like I had adequate time to be able to volunteer with my busy schedule. I didn’t realize that you could even volunteer just once every month or every other month. I told Soup or Socks that I would love to continue volunteering and to let me know of openings that I could help them with. The volunteers that are there are from different backgrounds. Many of the volunteers are individuals that retired and wanted to do something to help others. They decided to volunteer and many of them have been volunteering for over ten years.
I am a person that is very shy and doesn’t open up until I feel comfortable. “Bell means is that silence is more costly than speaking out, because it requires the ultimate sacrifice – the erosion of our spirit. The toll we pay for stifling our emotions in personal life is fairly obvious. Swallowed words act like caustic acids, eating at our gut” (Loeb, 2010, p. 29). This is something I will have to address in the future and something that I truly learned about myself. I try to keep everything in to prevent hurting others, but I truly do see where it can erode your spirit. Over time, I lost the importance of what things truly meant to me because I just would hide my true feelings. I was in situations that I was emotionally abused and how people made me feel like I was nothing. It took me a long time to open up to anyone, and I realize how hiding your emotions can really impact you. These experiences that I had could really truly benefit others.
The Common Good in my eyes means that compassionate care is given to everyone, no matter what race, gender, or ethnicity. I also believe it allows everyone to have equal opportunities in succeeding in life by trying to promote what is best for each and every person. Volunteering allowed me to feel like I was doing something to help my community and surrounding communities. It allowed me to take a baby step in the right direction, and I hope to continue doing this. I have volunteered in the past, but this class gave me a perspective of what Common Good truly means. This world is filled with so much crime and hate, and we need to do something about this before it is too late. We are suppose to love thy neighbor, but with what is occurring these days in the world, I feel like we are going in the wrong direction. It all starts with one person to begin getting us back on the right path.