A Village of One
It takes a village, but villages are made of one and another one and another one. Unless the ones take an action, the village is a dead entity—like the Dead Sea which gives life to nothing. There is often a pointing to larger groups to provide the answers, which can often promulgate the insufficiency of one for making any difference. But to quote Mother Teresa, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
There will not be a “cure” for so many of the social issues in our world, in our nation, in our communities. But we—one by one—can offer a little remediation—a little humanity.
I contribute to larger efforts in small ways and act as one in small ways. Boulder, Colorado, has community supported initiatives to provide housing and other services to the homeless and to those transitioning from homelessness to more stability. There are separate housing and social service/educational support for homeless teens, a shelter for women and children, and a small home for pregnant women needing a supportive and safe place to be. But this does not meet everyone’s need. There are families needing nutritional support, which can be supplemented through food banks at various centers and “on wheels” to reach those in outer areas. Some of the churches offer clothing closets and free lunches or dinners on a rotating basis—available to anyone.
Within these programs are opportunities for the ones to contribute—time or money or clothes or food items or personal products such as soap, detergent, deodorant. The food banks also collect non food items and always need diapers and personal products that food stamps or minimal wage cannot cover. Many of the invisible poor are working and still unable to live with an unlivable minimum wage. Did you know the minimum livable wage is around $22 an hour? One action would be to pay the next person you hire closer to this wage. I worked for about that at a mental health center—with a master’s degree—and at that time the salary qualified those of us with families of 4 for medicaid and food stamps.
Additional one activities can include a cooler in the car to hold water or juice or even wet washcloths ( buy them at the goodwill and double the good) in baggies, to cool off with—to offer to those on the corners. In the city there are options of buying from the dollar menu and passing them out to those nearby. Snack bars, fruit, and sunscreen. Your dollar bills or change, or local-eatery or coffee-shop gift cards. I have had to let go of wondering how they are going to ‘spend’ the money—I’m not always the wisest spender myself.
Winter brings a variation—knit gloves, socks, caps; warm coffee or hot chocolate. Volunteer to help at emergency shelters or outreach groups to check on those outside under stairways, in parks, and ditches, to distribute blankets, transport to shelters or hospitals. Donations to clothes closets of all those sweaters and jackets—especially children’s and larger sizes.
And last—which is first—is a freebie. See one. Engage with one. Offer a moment or two of your time and attention. Each of us is so much more than our worst moment.
Once you begin seeing the one and not a them, change happens. We ones create a living village.
—deb y felio © 2018