Monday, December 18, 2006

Still processing...

I am still processing what I experienced during my volunteer time in Pass Christian and Delisle.

When people ask me “what was it like” the 2 things that immediately come to mind is the complexity of the situation and the gratitude of everyone we encountered. Whenever residents discovered you were a volunteer there was this immediate outpouring of thanks and acknowledgement. This happened time and again (in Kimball’s, at worksites, in the library, at church, even in the dollar store). As soon as you mentioned you were a volunteer – boom, the thanks was there. I learned that the residents of the area are truly grateful for the help, do not take it for granted and do not want to be forgotten.

Besides interacting with other talented volunteers, I had the tremendous opportunity to do a variety of different things - from basic labour (I was definitely not as skilled as the construction and plumbing folk I was teamed with) to friendly visiting. What I most valued about my time was that the human dimension was an important part of the equation. There can be a lot of vanity in volunteering – ‘wow look at the house we built’, ‘look at the lumber we unloaded’ and I am as susceptible to that thinking as any other. However, I appreciated the fact that we were encouraged to visit, befriend and assist the variety of people we encountered. Since the loss of ‘community’ in the area is as great a legacy as any physical damage that has been sustained this aspect is important.

The things I remember most are the small civilities: getting jumbalaya at a worksite, being invited for cake and a visit, taking a couple of local gentlemen for their regular meal at Katrina’s Kitchen, interacting with the different volunteers at the library….hearing everyone’s individual story. That was the best part. And it was a privilege.

-Maureen (Ontario, Canada)

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