Local Level Need
A week and a half into retirement and I'm here to report that life is good on the other side. I've kept fairly busy so far, in fact when my wife was questioned by friends on "how Jim's retirement is going," she said, "He hasn't sat down." I think I'm still in the manic, must-get-stuff-done mode that happens when people get a week off of work. Gotta cram it all in. Well, I am starting to adjust to the fact that it will all be there tomorrow and next week, and if I don't get to all of it today, it's really okay. It's been a strange adjustment for sure, but one that I am beginning to appreciate more and more.
Before I decided to retire, one of the things I wanted to commit to was a regular stint of volunteer work. When I mentioned it to a friend who works for Frieden's Food Pantry, he suggested I look into helping in one of their four locations. They vary in the number of families that they serve, but they turn over a huge amount of food every month to low income families.
The couple of times I've served so far have been centered around unloading Hunger Task Force trucks and shelving all the products. The two locations I've served at are both housed in basements which means either using an elevator or in another case, sliding the cases of food down a chute that is loaded onto carts that then get pushed to the shelving areas. It is a pretty good workout, especially for this 61 year-old who thinks he's still 28.
Last week the signup for the volunteer slot was looking for 10 people and we ended up with 5, one of whom had a bum hand and could only datestamp the food as it came in. It was as hard as I've physically worked in a while, but was rewarding nonetheless.
I've always had a heart for volunteer work and I don't know why. When I first moved to Milwaukee I signed up for the Big Brothers program and got matched to a boy for almost 6 years. I've also tutored students, worked helping serve meals to homeless, sorted food for Hunger Task Force and a few other good causes. I'm not saying this to toot my horn but rather to point out there are a multitude of possibilities for people to help. There are lots of causes and most cater to all levels of help (i.e. not all are heavy lifting.)
So, it's my plan to continue doing this, at least a couple of times a month, maybe more. I feel pulled to do something to give back, in part because I have been fortunate not to experience the hardships that these communities feel. Global change starts at the local level so I look for where I can help.
On an unrelated note, today marks 56 years ago that my father was killed in a racial incident in a bar in St. Paul. It is also a reminder that we need to continue to work toward social justice and racial unity.