One of the unique aspects of the non-profit community is that we are a connection point; a nexus where a need meets want, where help meets a hand and where grace intersects and interjects. It is in these connections that I find a greater hope and strength than I might normally expect. In the past week I’ve been around two people on disparate ends of life’s spectrum, but both of whom inspire me.
Ralph is the lead contact for one of our church partner agencies. He’s been around for years and has probably made sure more people eat than I can even imagine. Crusty on the exterior (the definition of curmudgeon if there ever was one!) but dedicated to the cause of his community beyond any measurable scale. Ralph has braces on his knees, swollen joints from age and hard work, and a deep breath can be hard for him to find. Yet he comes here to the Food Bank, day after day, week after week because, as he says, ‘”people need to be fed.” I often think that he should be at home with his feet up, but Ralph thinks that he needs to do more. May we all feel this sense of dedication and compassion, no matter our own circumstances.
A few months back we were approached to collaborate on a Guinness book of records event – the most pounds of food collected in a 24-hour period for the benefit of those who are hungry. The young man who brought this to us, Zach Bonner, has already left an impact upon the community in ways we’d all be proud of as we took stock of our full lives. He’s 16. Zach has walked the length of the country, sat in a glass house and invested himself in a variety of ways on behalf of children in our community who are in peril. I suggested to him that not many of his peers are probably doing this… his reply, “I just feel the need to help.” It’s not really much simpler than that, and kudos to this young man for reminding us all.
Both Ralph and Zach remind me – us – that it only takes heart, will and the sense of responsibility to make our community a better place. We are, after all, connected to each other in more ways than we can imagine.