In my household growing up we were always encouraged to help others. My parents were active in the church, and made sure that we were very active also. Through the church we did community service projects, and I often volunteered in my spare time. However, as time progressed I was not as involved. Community Service was always in my heart. I just did not have the time. Recently I was afforded some extra time due to a down turn in work, and what I have experienced over the past few months has totally changed my life. Here’s my story……
I have an older cousin who is very active in the community she is always involved in community service efforts. After I realized that I would have some extra time, I gave her a call. I asked her if there was anything that I could get involved in. She gave me two options. One option was a paid option the other was a complete volunteer opportunity. I went to visit the center at the volunteer opportunity and it was completely hectic. Most of the people there were Homeless, or displaced as a result of Hurricane Harvey. The scene was gruesome. There were people in wheelchairs searching for food, babies without the essentials that were crying, mental illness was rampart, and stress levels were high.
I was a little stressed also. I did not know what was going on with my job. I was just starting a new semester at an expensive institution that I had already committed to, and tuition was no joke (I clearly needed a job to pay for it.) I also wasn’t feeling particularly well. I entered this hectic environment at a time when things were hectic for me. I know now that it is in the storm that God speaks to us, and we hear him so clearly. I entered the room to assist a friend of my cousin and she had the kindest spirit. We instantly connected. Within 30 minutes of introducing myself I knew that this was the project for me. I could have used the money gig, but I knew that this was exactly where God wanted me to be.
The project that we are working on together is a Community Health Initiative. We volunteer our time and resources to ensure that people who need it the most are taken care of. There are days when the people are unappreciative or lash out at us (they are stressed and many are suffering with mental illness.) We just keep pushing. I spent many years just focusing on myself, my new shoes, fashion, or my next trip. As a result of taking the time to focus on others there are so many things that I once found important that are no longer important to me.
I am tired a lot, frustrated with a system that most of the time does not work, but I keep on pushing. These people at the center have given me a purpose that I never knew that I had. I use to wake up every day and just go through my day completely “Brandi” focused. Now I wake up and think, What can I do for my community?
I have met so many people that I never would have met, and experienced so many things that I never would have experienced. I’m still the same “Brandi” looking for the next best outfit, and some sunny beach to lay on. That has not changed. What has changed is my outlook, and perspective. These people that months ago I never would have met have been my saving grace. When I am having a bad day I come to the Center and there’s someone there who just had 3 strokes and a heart attack 3 weeks prior and refuses to let us help her walk. I am instantly reminded that this life is bigger than me. My struggles are so small, and that I have so many things to be thankful and grateful for. I was always positive, but now I am even more positive. I was always hopeful, but now I am so much more hopeful. I thank God every single day for saying “Yes” to serving my community. I encourage you as you read this post to look outside of yourself. When I looked outside of myself is when I truly found myself.