I am so grateful that President Obama was the commencement speaker at my daughter Leila’s High School graduation! Actually, he was there on Zoom for all 2020 graduates who are making tremendous life transitions in the midst of a difficult time. These kids may have to grow up faster than other generations. “Be alive to one another’s struggles” he said.
Leila joined me at my semi-regular volunteer spot at POTS — Part of The Solution, dedicated to feeding and serving the Bronx. As we packed hundreds of lunches, both hot and cold, we talked about the depths of the crisis and ripples of the economic and human devastation through the Bronx. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to give back alongside my daughter and through that time, to be more alive to the struggles around us.
I’ve packed meals, delivered food, become a “grocery buddy”, and have been asked by a group of communal and faith based organizations to coordinate local food insecurity needs. I’m also helping our local nascent food pantry to scale to growing demand. I am happy to use my organizational skills to help them scale. The work is how I am open to depth of need in the community and able to funnel my energy to solutions.
Giving back is how we are alive to one another’s struggles. But for so many the thought of giving back is daunting because we cannot hold even ourselves up. But the secret is understanding that giving back is a two way street — volunteering and giving creates connection, community, and ultimately resilience. We even feel better ourselves when we can help others.
What can we do? If you can, deliver groceries or join a Mutual Aid. If you can’t leave your home, call a friend, neighbor, or local older adult who is homebound. Volunteer for the 2020 Census. Volunteer for a political candidate. The giving will benefit you, too!