Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lessons from the margins

I first discovered the joy of volunteering as a teenager while living in Maryland, cleaning up stream beds with my friend Beth as an alternative to attending school. My delinquency was intermittent, but the pleasure I derived from doing something meaningful and useful without being asked made a lasting impression. It truly was the birth of a lifetime of volunteering, and there isn't much about my teen years that has been nearly as far-reaching and productive!

Since then, my focus in the realm of volunteering has been primarily in health and social services and education, and, like many volunteer opportunities, they've offered deep and lasting reward. One of the current arms of my volunteer work is expressed through my faith community as Donations Coordinator. I am responsible for the ingathering and distribution of non-perishable food, clothing, and household items at Faith Lutheran Church. We collect items on a year 'round basis and make deliveries monthly to several agencies, shelters, and programs that serve those those in need in King and Snohomish counties.

Today's stops included deliveries to a shelter run by the Seattle Union Gospel Mission (SUGM), located in the former Lake City fire station, Immanuel Community Services Hygiene and Recovery Programs downtown, and Tent City 3, currently housed at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. I was particularly impressed with the organizational structure, community spirit and gracious hospitality at Tent City 3. If one hundred people can live cooperatively within the chain-linked confines of a church parking lot in dozens of tents, sharing space, supplies and resources in all sorts of weather conditions while conducting the fine nuances of their personal lives, we most certainly should be able to get along in the heated, marble-floored spaces of our legislative halls.

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