Sunday, April 9, 2017
Today was the last mission of the season for the Akron Snow Angels. As everyone enjoyed the 70+ degree temperatures today, most people could be seen out enjoying the weather. Most people have the “spring has sprung” feeling as many of us seemed to forget that there were below freezing temperatures and 5-6” of snow on the ground just 2 days ago in many areas. The homeless have not.
As most of us go to bed thinking of summer cookouts and outdoor activities in the summer sun, the homeless stay wondering how cold it will still get. I did see a lot of relief for many of them as they are realizing that the worst part of the season should be behind them. In the same sense, you can also see in their faces that they realize that the battle isn’t over yet. There’s still cold to fight. There’s still a struggle to stay warm.
As I drove home, the conversations that I heard made me ask some questions of myself. What am I worried about? What concerns me? Why? I kept asking the “why is that” question until it became a “is it a basic need” question. In most of the cases, the answer was no.
Lesson one: Concerns are often based on the overall situation. They shouldn’t be. Do not take the basics for granted.
A gentleman came up to the request truck today and said “you probably don’t still have my stuff because it was January when I requested it, but I figured I’d ask anyways.” Without a hesitation, Megan and Lisa dug into the mountain of requested items to see what the possibilities were. At the bottom of a box, were the boots that the man requested a few months prior.
Elated is too mild of a word for how this man felt. I’ve seen people win on television game shows that weren’t this happy. Seeing the worn out shoes on his feet, I can understand why. Those of us that witnessed this couldn’t help but share in this feeling. Everyone that was there shared in the joy. His happiness spread like an unstoppable force.
It felt like every ounce of work for the year was worth it, even if it was just getting this one man his boots. As he walked away with the extra skip in his step, I started to run through my own thoughts. I loved this feeling. I wanted more of it. “Where can I get this? What do I need to do for this? How did this happen?” I started to boil it down to the root cause and how it lead to the end result. As I added things up, I realize it was a very simple formula.
Lesson two: You only need to exceed the expectation of one person to make a world of difference to many.
When I start to reflect on the missions from this year, it leaves me with a vast quantity of emotions. I feel accomplished, but that there is still so much more that needs done. I feel educated, but that education has shown me a sample of how little I actually know. I feel tired, but energized to do it again next season. Most of all, I feel better. I feel that I’m better than I was in November when the first mission of the year happened.
I love sharing these lessons and hold the hope that they can help you. In the same sense, learning is a process that is better through experience than teachings. Get involved. Get your children involved. Make your community better. Find ways to help. If you need assistance in finding out what some of the needs are out there in the community, please contact me. Through my experiences, I have come in contact with many groups and many organizations that can use your help. I am more than happy to assist in finding someplace that can utilize your talents. There is always some way that you can make a difference. Some way that you can make this world better for someone...including yourself. There are no reasons as to why you cannot help. There are only excuses not to.