Small May Not Be So Small

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”

— Mother Teresa

It may not seem like much, but volunteering in our community can help show us that the small things may actually be very big.

Our small volunteer crew in front of Open Meadow alternative school in Portland

Our small volunteer crew in front of Open Meadow alternative school in Portland

Yesterday, my daughters and I volunteered at Open Meadow high school in Portland. It’s a private alternative to regular public schools for kids who have either dropped out or have been failed by the system. Funded privately (you can donate here), but working in partnership with PPS, the focus is on small classes, equity, and re-engaging disadvantaged kids to break the cycle of poverty.

Crawford house

Crawford house, home to Open Meadows school

From an architectural perspective, it’s also a small wonder. Housed in a home probably built by either the historically-important Benson or Cheney families, the school sits on a bluff overlooking the Willamette river.  It was built in the early part of the twentieth century and reminded me of those majestic, southern antebellum homes.

Rounded "turret" with curved glass

Rounded turret with curved glass

During our break, we were able to tour the school and I was impressed with so many small details and how unusual they were compared to an average home or school today – rounded windows, an attic that once served as a ballroom,  walnut walls and floors in the entry, and floor to ceiling tiles in the bathrooms.

A lot of factors influence the people we become, yet one of the overlooked things is the space that surrounds us. I have to wonder if going to school in such a unique building has any influence on the kids that walk it’s hallways.

At the end of our volunteer shift, we had painted a fence and cleaned up a garden bed to help prepare the grounds for the upcoming graduation ceremonies. It was a small task with seemingly small results.

But I suppose like anything, small is what we make it. The volunteer work in the garden was small, but it will be noticed by everyone. Open Meadow may not be one of the glamour schools, but it is no small task if this small school can inspire a child who has given up, to give education one more chance.

And although it was just another day in the lives of my little girls, I hope it helped show them that the small may not be so small.


Yesterday’s gift of time … Volunteered with my daughters at Open Meadow alternative high school in Portland. Small, yet not.

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About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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2 Responses to Small May Not Be So Small

  1. What a beautiful place and what a wonderful gift of your time! I have to believe that the love and caring of the place has an influence on the young people who are touched by it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Eric Winger says:

    Thanks, Vicki. 🙂

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