“I give. Because it’s my home.”
— requoted by Melia, HandsOn Portland Program Manager
There’s a lot of talk about community.
We work in communities, we shop in communities, we exercise in communities, we drive in communities, we worship in communities, we gather in communities, and we live in communities. For as long as humans have been around, anthropologists tell us that the vast majority of people lived in a community. Sometimes small, sometimes large, but almost always some type of community.
But for all the importance of community, the word ‘community’ can be overused, Melia told me yesterday. She and I were talking while helping rebuild garden plots at one of Portland’s many community gardens on a foggy Saturday morning. This one was in north Portland, near the St. John’s bridge. She is the East Side Program Manager for HandsOn Greater Portland, one of the best resources for finding volunteering opportunities in the Portland Metro Area.
To paraphrase her, “The word ‘community’ can become trite and stale. It’s a word that doesn’t resonate that well, perhaps outside the volunteering groups.”
But she went on to say that during a recent meeting at HandsOn, one of her co-workers said, “I give. Because it’s my home.”
That really does drive it home, no pun intended. ‘Home’ is often thought of as our house. But when we extend the idea of our ‘home’ beyond our house, into our neighborhoods, suburbs, metro areas, or our planet, my ‘home’ becomes our ‘home.’
Whether it’s volunteering in a community garden or picking up trash in the neighborhood, it’s all a part of my home. When I volunteer, I see friends who share my home, and share a belief that we can make it better, not strangers who intrude upon it. When I volunteer, I’m contributing to a cause that isn’t foreign and distant, but to a cause that is homegrown and near. When I volunteer, I’m not just helping someone else’s neighborhood, I’m helping to take care of my home.
I give, because it’s my home.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Volunteered with my friends at Portland Community Gardens as part of the Martin Luther King weekend of service.