Thanks to TBT Member, Religious School Teacher, and Family Promise Volunteer Michelle Rodabaugh for sharing these words!
Recently, a neighbor’s husband passed away. It was so sudden and unexpected. They had just come home from a fantastic 4th of July weekend in Hilton Head with their close friends. I had the opportunity to hear all about it, because when I went over to sit with her that was what she talked about. She showed pictures of them on the beach marveling over how good he looked.
My neighbor has many close friends and a large family close by for support, but I went to sit with her anyway and joined in the organized list to provide her with food and company during this difficult time for her (my day is Friday). This is just something that we do as good neighbors… Jews…Humans. Now, my neighbor may not be Jewish and sit shiva, but we have traditions and customs for a reason…because they are embedded in a basic sense of humanity and a desire to help when someone is in need. We all do this. It is part of our culture and the way we were raised. It is easy to identify a person in need of our love and support when we know that they have just suffered the loss of a loved one. We have all experienced it in some form and so our hearts naturally go out to them and we respond the same way our parents did. We go over and sit with them, send or bring them food, and pray.
Not so easy to see is the struggling family, putting on a good face until they lose everything including their home, or the single mother venturing out from a bad relationship and determined to make a better life for her and her kids, but with nowhere to go. We don’t have as good of a guide map for handling and responding to these situations. Our hearts may go out to them, but we don’t know what to do. I have been fortunate to participate in Temple Beth Tikvah’s Family Promise Project. I signed up for the first family because I knew it was the right thing to do, but as I did, I admit, I signed up for what was convenient. Dinner the first night, because it was a Sunday and I wouldn’t have to work that day and Clean-up the last day, because I had to be at Religious School that morning anyway, so why not come in an hour earlier to help. The next time to sign up came around and I volunteered for the same two slots. This time, not so much because of convenience, but because of the utter sense of accomplishment and well-being that I got the first time. Dinner was mid-week, but the other volunteers and I had each taken a portion of the meal and it came together beautifully. I helped clean up again but this time is wasn’t so convenient. Since there was no Religious School, I didn’t have to be up early on a Sunday morning, but there I was, coffee in hand ready to move boxes and load the van.
Next time a family comes to stay with us, school will just be getting underway. Our houses may be a mess and lunches will have to be made. Bedtimes will have to be re-enforced, and we will have to adjust to our school schedule. It may not be convenient to give our time and energy to a family that we do not know, but it is something what we need to do as good neighbors…Jews…Humans. These families in the program are working so hard to better themselves and their situation; all they need is a little helping hand. Our hand. Please reach out with me to give them the hand that they need.
To sign up for week of August 18 -25:
1. Click on this link: http://vols.pt/1pAkqB to go to our invitation page on Volunteer Spot.
2. Enter your email address.
3. Sign up! Choose your spots. You will receive an automated confirmation and reminders.