Sunday, December 18, 2016
Any place. Any time. Any situation
Today was the day where a year's worth of hard work for a few individuals turns smiles and granted wishes for a neighborhood as Elves & More of Northeast Ohio takes off to deliver 1,100 bikes. In fact, today’s deliveries created 3 neighborhoods filled with smiles.
I was honored when I was asked if I wanted to head up a bicycle delivery with my friend and longtime Elves and More supporter, Lenny Raushcer. I started to wonder where we were going. I knew that it would be the Akron area, but I didn’t know which area.
Yesterday that question was answered when I was told “our group is going to Norton.” I was completely shocked. I didn’t really know what to say. How could that be? I live in Norton. I don’t see the things normally associated with the neighborhoods where Elves and More goes. I was filled with questions as to why we were going to Norton of all places. It didn’t make sense to me.
People always ask me, “Where will the delivery be this year?”. I always tell them “I don’t know” as usually, I don’t. I’ve been asked before, “Aren’t you curious?”. My response is always the same. “Nope” I say. “I know that they do a lot of work in figuring out who can really benefit from the bikes. They’re smart about this. There’s no need for me to know. I just know that we will be getting bikes to kids who need them.”
As I went to bed that night questioning why we were going to Norton, I realized that I needed to tell myself the answer that I tell everyone else when they ask me where we are going. “The guys in charge are amazing at finding the right people to get the bikes to. They know what they’re doing.”
Lesson one: If there’s a proven process, trust it.
We all have a tendency to live inside of our own little worlds. It seems that many people barely know their own neighbors, let alone someone that lives 4 or 5 houses away. For me, it’s taken an effort, but I take great pride in being involved in my neighborhood. When I walk the dog, I usually get stopped by a few different neighbors to catch up on things. I help out my neighbors when they need it, and they are always willing to reciprocate without hesitation. We all talk. More than that, we communicate. We check on each other. We laugh with each other. We genuinely care as we are not only neighbors, but friends.
The neighborhood we were in today felt like it didn’t have that sense of “community”. There were no negative feelings, but people very much seemed to keep to themselves and not interact with each other. I feel as if I was part of breaking down some of those walls today. Kids riding bikes brings people out of their houses. It gets them talking. It brings them closer. Being a part of a community makes everyone stronger. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. I feel that we have planted that seed today.
Lesson two: Communities don’t “happen”. They need a catalyst to get them started. Be that catalyst
Earlier in this blog, I said “I don’t see thein things normally associated with the neighborhoods where Elves and More goes.” This delivery was unlike any other that Elves and More had ever done as it was in a much more rural type of area. There were no sidewalks. There were no streetlights. There were not businesses nearby. There were spaces between the houses. There were ditches to contend with. The smiles and sense of gratitude were exactly the same as any other delivery we’ve made. You could tell that in some cases, this was Elves and More supplying Christmas to some that may not have had it otherwise.
Lesson three: People that need help can be found in any place, at any time, in any situation.
Today had three valuable lessons for me. Two I had to hunt for. One was obvious. I'm already excited for next year....