Today, I spent five hours of my work day at the Bowery Mission volunteering with four of my colleagues to help prepare and serve meals for the homeless and New Yorkers in need. As the Optimizely.org ambassador to our New York City office, I head up all our volunteer and charitable efforts. The Bowery Mission has been serving homeless and in need New Yorkers since 1879. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals every day of the year to those in need, without any show of ID or income. They provide emergency shelter, housing, showers, and food.
Shortly after we all arrived, we had a short orientation to learn about the organization before getting started. The director of the program actually started out as the people they serve do — as a homeless drug addict with no where to go, no future in sight. But years ago, he came to the Bowery Mission for a free hot meal, and suddenly after that, he was inspired to change his ways, get clean, and get back on his feet through the services they provide. He wants to serve and help these people every day because through this type of help, he himself reaped the benefits and is in a healthy and happy place now.
It’s inspiring to hear these stories of people whose lives seemingly crumbled, getting back to a normal and healthy life. We volunteer to help others, but to be totally honest, we also volunteer our time and energy because it makes us feel good about ourselves. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing as long as someone outside of yourself is benefiting. Doing good work like this benefits everyone. I wish there were more charitable, like-minded people in the world. So many people talk about doing good. Far fewer actually make it actionable.