Friday, March 4, 2011

An embarrassment of riches

I just returned from Metro CareRing (MCR), one of the major hunger relief centers in Denver, and one of Denver's largest food pantries. Those readers of these reflections who see the entire newsletter where it is originally published (rather than on the blogsite or Facebook), will know that I've been planning a community service opportunity at MCR for several weeks. My experience with these service opportunities has generally been that -- at most -- a dozen folks will respond positively, and between six and and eight will actually materialize. Perfect, I thought, for what I had envisioned.

Imagine my surprise when, within a few days of posting this opportunity, emails came pouring in with volunteers galore. One reason for the response was that a professor in an ethics class at the Business School suggested to his students that this opportunity would be a good service project for them. But even without that added incentive, the response was overwhelming. So much so that I feared WE would overwhelm Metro CareRing; that is, that there wouldn't be enough for all of the volunteers to do. I even began to get a bit stressfully grumpy about what we were "imposing" on the organization; I was little embarrassed that what I had TOLD them was NOT what looked like was going to happen.

I knew that some folks were driving to the center, but I had posted a suggestion that we take public transportation. So I was somewhat pleased when there were only two at the Light Rail station: "Maybe the expected attrition rate WILL bring us back down to normal," I thought. And, when we arrived, a couple of other cars soon appeared -- but we were still around ten folks, expecting three or four more. "Manageable", I thought. We went inside the building, and began waiting for our orientation. And still they came! More chairs. The room was full (above!). Part way through the introductions MORE came. And then MORE.

The staff at MCR was DELIGHTED! And as I settled back and watched them handle the horde, I began to relax. And, of course, it turned out that our sheer numbers were able to accomplish in a morning more than the MCR folks ever expected. Many of us were "out of sight" of the actual clients who were served by MCR, but the amount of work we were able to do far surpassed the needs of today. And all of us enjoyed the time -- there was a richness in the work that matched the strength of our numbers. And the welcoming graciousness of the staff set me off-center -- in the end, a good thing.

The desire to serve is immense, as is the need to be served. I'll not worry about too many volunteers again! And, several moments of "thanksgiving" are in order.



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