“When I’m old, I won’t care how much TV I watched.”
— Gary, from the Tigard Good Neighbor Center
That’s what Gary, an employee at the Good Neighbor Center, told me this morning as I finished up painting over the patches I made yesterday. He told me that he had recently cut his umbilical cord to his cable provider which gave him time to do more interesting things, like reading.
“Why pay $50 a month to spend 30% of my time watching their ads? They should be paying me.” he exclaimed.
I had to laugh, but what he said next is what really caught my ear.
(Paraphrasing) “I used to be a mortgage broker. I’m happy to say that we were one of the good guys who helped people get homes. But I got laid off 5 times in 7 years and I was just sick of how hard we had to work to make a few guys rich.” he told me. “The last time was in 2008 and that was it for me. We had a company full of good people, a tight-knit group. We did a lot together. Then they let us all go.”
We went on to talk about his decision to change careers from banking to non-profits. He also told me how deeply satisfying the work at the Good Neighbor Center is. It gives him a sense of gratification that he could never have gotten at his prior job.
As we talked, a lady with two big mega packs of toilet paper walked in. She and Gary talked a bit about her donation. She said, (Paraphrasing again) “When I was overnighting here some time ago, I had to go to the bathroom. All that was available was a box of kleenex. Toilet paper is needed.” Again, laughter.
At a family shelter, just like in any home, toilet paper is needed. And so are bus tickets, diapers, Lysol, trash bags and paper towels. Most importantly though, time is needed.
It takes time to go out and buy a few dozen rolls of toilet paper and drop them off on a Sunday morning.
It also takes time for a person like Gary and all of the staff at the center to do meaningful work. Work that makes a difference in the lives of people. Work that makes connections. Work that they’ll remember when they’re old.
How about you? Will you remember watching the Super Bowl today?
Or will you remember touching someone’s life?
Finished fixing the holes at the Good Neighbor Center and cooked supper tonight. This is a Super Bowl Sunday I hope to remember when I’m old.
I’m also happy to note that last night my wife Melissa and I chaperoned the Valentine’s Day dance at my son and daughter’s middle school. She did V-day photos and today she organized and printed them all. It’s more than a photograph that she is giving. It’s a memory.