Over the past few years I’ve done something around my birthday to give back to the community and I wanted this year to be no different. So, this time last Saturday I celebrated my birthday with family and friends by taking over Central Union Mission. Volunteers signed up for two-hour shifts, kindhearted chefs were brought in to prepare lunch, and barbers donated their time, providing free hair cuts for the men of Central Union Mission.
A few things stood out to me while serving last week:
The majority of the volunteers did not want to leave when their shifts ended. I was asked more than once “Can I stay a little bit longer?” , “I know my shift is over but is there something else I can do?” Serving does this to you—you get lost in it; something comes over you and you want to keep giving. Maybe initially, you were there for you. You know, to do a good deed; but that soon wears off and it’s no longer about you but more so about the difference being made in the lives of others.
The confidence gained by the Mission men after receiving their haircuts made my heart glad. They smiled brighter and their strides seemed a little longer. I know how I feel after a fresh ‘do’ so to see that they are impacted in the same way was such a blessing. Some of them seriously had that President Obama kind of stride after their haircuts...Okay, no one can do it quite like President Obama but you get it!
I was greatly inspired by the serving heart of little Brie, the youngest volunteer who was so eager and excited to serve! Brie started off drawing pictures on the back of the inspirational cards that would be left on the beds for the Mission men. She then graduated to 'my little helper', holding my hand, asking questions, and sharing funny stories that made her fall out laughing.
As lunch rolled around she stood beside me as I handed desserts to the older children so that they could pass them out to the 150 men of the Mission. After about 10-minutes of holding my hand as the other children came back and forth to pick up plated desserts, she asked if I could pick her up. I picked her up and proceeded to pass out the desserts to the children. Of course I should have known that she had a plan. She eased her way into the process and the desserts soon went from my hand to hers and then to the other children. This lasted a good 20-minutes or so before she asked to get down. I gathered that she needed a break and naturally, I was somewhat relieved, because a 3-year old on your hip for longer than five minutes is no easy feat.
But I was wrong; she did not need a break and again, had another plan. She now wanted to help pass out desserts. I obliged. She held the hand of one of the older girls as she handed out desserts and it seemed to be going well. That got old though, and after a few trips back and forth in lockstep with an older volunteer, Brie was ready for the big leagues. She wanted to actually pass out the desserts. Again, I obliged. Why? Because I know exactly what that feels like to want to do more. You see a need and know you can fill it if given the opportunity. And if the opportunity doesn’t already exist, you create it. Of course Brie didn’t think it through this way but I believe this is the way the heart of a servant works. You progressively seek and create opportunities to serve.
I’m so inspired by little Brie and the rest of the children that were there last week. I’m grateful to their parents for bringing them and I pray that service will be engrained in their hearts forever.
(Galatians 5:13) "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love."
Check out the video below and pay close attention to the end to see little Brie in action!