A Volunteer's Tale - Nancy Semple, Paying it Forward
I was very fortunate to be invited along with Jon White (Canada Jon) during his October/November visit to Pearlington, Mississippi. Fact is, if he didn't invite me, I would have stowed away and come along anyway! I suspect he knew this.
I have never for a moment regretted that decision to go. In fact, it changed my life. I have struggled most days since my return between making a living and carrying on with my tidy little life here in small town Ontario and chucking it all and going and staying as a volunteer in Pearlington. I’d do this until I can't take it any more or they send me on my way. My sense is that I would never regret that monumental decision. For reasons out of my control currently, (an ailing mother), I cannot make such a big decision to move.
How do I put into words the strong sense of community, morality and humanity that coincides with doing selfless work, to improve a stranger's life with no desire for gratitude or remuneration. It brings such joy to my life to be able to do anything for these people. They have lost so much and they are more spiritual and grateful for the little they have left and the help that comes to them in dribs and drabs, than I can fathom having if I was in their situation.
There was a movie some time ago, "Pay It Forward," that impacted me greatly. I am a self-confessed bleeding heart and proud of it. Please rent it and watch it. Without giving too much away about this movie, the premise is to do a favour for a complete stranger, out of the blue, when a situation presents itself. No second thoughts. Just do it. The request for the recipient of the "good deed" is that they do the same for someone else when put into a position that they can make a difference. And so on, and so on, so that people are helping people selflessly. This is what is really going on in Pearlington, and I suspect many other Gulf Coast communities. The electricity of spirit, joy and love is profound. This energy is from the volunteers working there and the residents alike.
It is palpable.
After experiencing such a thing, how could I ever accept anything less? Can you spare a week out of your life?
Just do it!
Collingwood, Ontario, Canada