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Adventures In Volunteering Chapter 1: "Flood Cleanup, It's A Dirty Job But Somebody's Got To Do It"

RSS XML FeedBackground Active Nov 12, 2009 to Dec 12, 2009

 Chapter One: "Flood Cleanup, It's a Dirty Job But Somebody Has To Do It!"
By Patty Belden,  August 2009

I have been scheduling volunteers to help with flood clean-up since early August and when they ask me what they will be doing, I reply with a generic answer that I have been programmed to give. And then it dawned on me…this is lame…I have no idea what it's actually like out there…I owe it to our volunteers to find out. 
To myself: "ok, so I'll go out this weekend, it'll be great. BUT, I have to clean my house, I have all this yard work, oh and my nephew has a ballgame. Oh, and I really need to go to the grocery store, maybe next weekend." Excuse after excuse. Again, this is lame. 
I got it! I will publicly promise to volunteer for flood clean-up on my blog. Problem solved, now I have to go. Crap. 
Saturday morning, 7:00 AM: yawn, rollover, hit snooze. Yawn, rollover, hit snooze. Yawn, rollover, hit snooze. ENOUGH ALREADY…get out of bed!!! 
7:55 AM: heavily caffeinate myself and then off to pick up my faithful friend, Erin, who has agreed to go with me. (Thanks Erin!)
8:15AM: Arrive to Harvey Brown. Mary's here…she's volunteering today too! And, look at all of these other people. Wow! This is great.
We sign-in, we train, we depart. We arrive to the work-site. On go the gloves and the masks; reality sets in. We meet the homeowner, she looks defeated. She leads us to her basement; nothing but black and the smell…I can't believe she's been living with this. My eyes begin to swell…tears want to fall…tears of sadness for this woman and the many others who have lost so much...I hold them back…we should be strong for her. 
The basement: black, wet, ruins. A Christmas tree that won't see another Christmas. Winter clothes that won't keep anyone warm this year. Photographs that are now warped…history erased. One by one, we carry out a piece of her life, a memory. 
Is this job easy? No. Is it fun? Not especially. Is it life changing? Absolutely. It is life-changing to the woman who lost a basement full of memories and necessities. And it's life-changing for the volunteers who help her to say good-bye, let go, and move on.  
There are still 200 people living in this situation and waiting for relief…people who are elderly, disabled, or all alone. They need your help. No more excuses, sign-up today. 
*Thanks to the all the volunteers who came together to cleanup our community.  You changed hundreds of lives!

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