Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Simple Act of Giving

The day was February 24th, 2009. That's right, just a couple days ago. I had just gotten home from a very busy day at work and was going through the normal routine of heating up the oven to throw some bachelor food in to appease my growling stomach. Then I heard my cell phone ding reminding me I had a message. This Tuesday evening was about to become very memorable and would undoubtedly change the way I reflected on many special moments in life.

The voicemail was from Betty, a staff member of Hands On Tampa Bay (HOT). She asked me to call her back at the office or if it was after 4:30pm then call her at home. I'm thinking to myself that this must be important. I never get people who I barely know asking me to call them at home after business hours. And so I called and Betty so eagerly shared these words with me "I want to inform you that you've been selected as Volunteer of the Year for 2008 for Hands On Tampa Bay!" I was in complete and utter disbelief! I mean what had I done that was so deserving of this magnitude of achievement? There are currently 1,903 active volunteers who have participated in at least 1 project in the past year and they chose me!?

The first words out of my mouth were - "Is this a joke?" She confirmed that it was definitely not a joke and that I had made a very positive impression on the award committee who had chosen me for such a distinct honor. At this point my throat swelled up and tears started rolling down my cheeks. My simple everyday efforts over the past several months had made a difference and this was God's way of telling me to keep doing what I was doing because it was touching lives beyond my own. In fact, HOT has touched many lives and Betty told me that with everyone's help they managed to give back a little over 15,000 volunteer hours in 2007 to the local community because of individuals like myself.

I'm sharing this because my hope is that it inspires you to give back to your community. Your fellow brothers and sisters have needs and struggles that only seem to accomplish pulling all the hope and optimism out of them. You may not see it because you might be too busy dealing with your own struggles in life. But 3 hours on a Saturday at a homeless shelter or 90 minutes on a Wednesday evening at a domestic abuse shelter can be a powerful thing for both sides of the generosity that's taking place. For it is within these moments that previously untold stories of hardships and the return to the splendor that life has to offer are communicated. And it is in these words and these smiles that life becomes sweet again and our precious gift of existence is reinforced.

Nobody is going to remember the nice house you live in, the fancy car you drive, or the things you do to entertain yourself. But I guarantee you that the single, homeless mother will remember the meal you fed her and her children when they were hungry. The child with downs syndrome will remember how you boosted their self esteem as you accompanied them on a horseback ride. And don't think that the 93 year old veteran who is full of pride but can't physically walk down the hall anymore without somebody at his side doesn't appreciate your guidance and gentle support. These are the exact reasons why it's so important to give back to this world. We are a species of incredible goodness and devotion. All we have to do is find a way to let it out.

God bless you and may you feel the jubilation that I've been so lucky to experience this past year. It is priceless and very consuming.

6 comments:

JeanieD said...

Dustin, I am so very proud of you. You are much deserving of this honor.

Michelle said...

Congratulations Dustin!!! Absolutely FANTASTIC news!! Hope you're celebrating in style! *hugs*

Rob said...

Dustin,
Great news! You are a very giving person and though this award recognizes that, never doubt that the people around you already know it. Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Dustin, congratulations! This is a great honor and you are very deserving of all or your recognition.

gary said...

Dustin, The others havealready said what we all know to be true. You are the most caring and selfless person I have ever known. You are not only a giver, but an inspiration to all who know you. I am proud to be your friend. Gary

Jen said...

Congrats Rudy, what an incredibe honor. As they say "good deeds do not go unnoticed"....