I had a wonderful, although untraditional Thanksgiving. This year only my Mom came in town. My brother had to work. Although we saw all the family up here in D.C. we did not get together with them on Thanksgiving. Instead, we volunteered at a Homeless shelter then went out to eat at a nice Brazilian Steakhouse. It was a fantastic day. We woke up at 4:30 a.m. to go volunteer at the Homeless Shelter. It was an amazing experience. As you can imagine, with the current economic turmoil more and more people have fallen on rough times. The Shelter we volunteered at was 95% full. It was a shelter in which they had to leave each day by 8:30 a.m. and could not return until 4 p.m. However the majority of people in that shelter were regulars. We served breakfast and I was amazed at just how happy and positive the majority of people were. One lady just kept thanking me for giving up my Thanksgiving to Volunteer. This was so foreign to me…why is she thanking me? Isn’t giving up a few hours on my holiday just a drop in the bucket of what I should be doing to help my neighbor? There were a few people with clear mental issue (which I know run high amongst the homeless population.) But for the most part they seemed to just be people down on their luck. One lady told me about how she went for a job interview, they forgot about her, made her wait an hour and half and then only interviewed her for 15 minutes. You could tell she had been really excited about the interview (especially in this market) and crushed by the 15 minute brush off.
One of the things I noticed is that many people kept asking me if they could have more coffee or more breakfast. I take that for granted. If I want a second bowl of cereal, I get it. If I want another cup of Orange Juice, I get it. But these guys are at the mercy of others. I can’t imagine how hard that would be at this point in my life.
The whole thing was a wonderful experience. It reminded me that I can and will do more in the future. As we were leaving many of the occupants were already on the street. Every one of them we passed thanked us for our time and for helping them. It made me cry. I honestly could not understand why we were being thanked. Isn’t it just a part of our civic duty? I have to do more in the future. This wasn’t enough.