I organized the second volunteer event with my office for the Coalition for the Homeless this late afternoon after getting so much positive feedback from our first event here back in June. We had six volunteers sign up to represent our New York City office, and it was a very efficient and fulfilling event. Although three months had passed, I actually recognized some of the people coming in to collect food, which made me a little bit sad.
However, there was one person who was volunteering with us who gave me some hope. This man seemed a bit awkward and shy in the beginning, and he asked me how I found this organization, so I told him, and I asked him the same question. He responded, saying he personally benefited from this organization and collected dinners from here for a while until he was finally able to get back on his feet again, so he feels indebted to the Coalition for the Homeless and wanted to give back some of what he got. As such, he volunteers at least once a week for a few hours to show to others that there really can be some light at the end of the tunnel.
The colleagues who heard this story and I all exchanged smiles. No, not everyone is “mooching” off the system. No, no one wants to be homeless or “in need.” Sometimes, everyone just needs a little help and support along the way, and that’s what organizations and volunteer efforts like this are for. This made me feel hopeful as I took my long walk back home.