“Nothing can be done except little by little.”
— Charles Baudelaire
Even though a month has passed since our most excellent Christmas adventure, the Tigard Good Neighbor Center continued to do their good work with an army of volunteers and crack staff. Families moved out, new families moved in. People found jobs and transitioned into a better situation. Homelessness isn’t over because Christmas is over. The needs keep coming.
In that spirit I’ve kept an eye out for a chance to help. Even though I keep looking, I hadn’t seen any specific needs I could fill for some time. It would have been easy enough to just keep waiting. Instead, I sent an email to Heidi, the volunteer coordinator, asking if there was anything I could help with.
The next day, I got a phone call from her, “Eric, did you get my emails?”
“No,” I replied.
“Well, we have a bit of a problem you might be able to help with since you asked. It’s a bit unusual,” she said. It was a curious way to open a conversation.
“What is it?” I asked.
“We have two holes in the wall. Any chance you could patch them? I tried to send you photos, but they bounced. ” she asked, a bit exasperated at the erroneous emails.
I asked her if Saturday was ok. It was, so this morning, after a quick trip to Ace Hardware and a visit with a very pleasant and helpful manager, I was peering inside the walls of the shelter. An hour later, two holes were filled. With a little luck, there won’t be any new holes before I go back tomorrow to put in the door stops.
A volunteer is like patching a hole. We may not be able to rebuild the wall, but we can patch the hole. We may not be able to feed a family forever, but we can feed them for one night. It may take a paramedic to save a life, but a volunteer can donate a pint of blood. Just because volunteers can’t always eliminate a problem, we are a big part of the solution.
It may look like it’s just patching a hole, but it’s really helping to patch the whole.
Filled a hole, filled a need.