How it Feels to Help a Neighbor
(Pastor Jim Pool, Renaissance Vineyard Church, Aug. 20, 2014)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Renaissance Vineyard Church is hosting a Volunteer and Cleaning Supply organizing effort. Information is at the end of this article. We asked Pastor Jim Pool to talk about what a clean up volunteering experience was like. Here is his story:
We walked up to Betty’s house on a quiet street in Oak Park. She was 91 years old and living alone. Our assignment was to carry some heavy items up from the basement. Betty’s daughter had come down from the UP over the weekend to do the hard work of cleaning. She had also carefully marked what we were to move and where it was to go: some items had been ruined and were headed for the curb, but anything that was salvageable was destined for the garage.
Betty answered the door. She was a sweet woman with wispy white hair and kind eyes. With each trip up the stairs we would stop and chat. It became clear that this had been a very emotional experience for Betty. Fresh tears would well up in her eyes as each piece came up the stairs.
“No, not that one. I want to keep that one.” “Yes, Betty,” we would gently reply (yet loud enough for her to hear with her hearing aid). “We’re keeping this one. We’re taking it to the garage.” “Oh, okay. Good.”
One member of our cleaning team had a sore back and so took the time to sit with Betty. In no time, Betty and Tim were thick as thieves, sharing stories, sharing their hearts. Tim did the most important work.
When we were all done, Betty walked through the basement with us. We saw the knee-high line in the wall where the floodwater had crested. We coached her on what to do with the possibility of mold and offered to talk with her daughter to help find additional help for her.
Betty gave us a tour of her memories, old photos and trophies and more. Though we had come to move Betty’s furniture, it became clear that what we were really there for was to be a friend. Someone to love Betty.
Far from being a “task,” this was an opportunity. A joy-filled labor of love. We might have had tired muscles, yet each of us that served Betty that night went home with fuller hearts.
Setting up the Volunteer and Cleaning Supply Center at Renaissance Vineyard has been such a rewarding experience. We’ve connected dozens of people and been able to make the flood more bearable for us all.
We’d really like to thank the amazing network of volunteers that have helped make this possible, from the community, from other churches, from RenVC, especially Mary Grace Donahue who has done such a great job coordinating. Thank you! Thanks also to Crystal Proxmire, Adrianne Greer and Shannyn Caldwell who gave us just the right amount of inspiration, coordination and nudge to help get us going in the right direction.
We’ll be coordinating cleaning supplies, clean-up and moving help through this Thursday (the 21st). We’re also looking to help coordinate some larger household items for people with that kind of need.
If you need help or are able to help, please contact the church at 248.545.4664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For other flood related stories and resources, see:
How it Feels to Help a Neighbor