HAPPY THANKSGIVING! :)
Now Playing: Day 1327-Gastroparesis Life-A New Road For Me
Mine started around 3am. This was after I got home and finally was able to get Oreo situated which turned into a very long process. By the time I finally got myself situated on my couchbed, Mr. Tumor pain decided to pay me an unwelcome visit. The pain is much more tolerable standing or walking but once I lay down, FORGET IT! I couldn't take any oral pain medication since we had a 8am wake up this morning so I opted for the topical pain medicine and a Thermawrap.
Eric had to work so once he got home there was no sleep on his agenda. Instead he let the fur gang outside and got an early bite to eat. I got around three hours of sleep but I was determined as ever to work through the pain and head downtown to assist with a large gathering of those who are homeless and in need of assistance. A very blessed Thanksgiving! This was the same event I volunteered for last year but due to my seizures I had to cancel at the last minute. OH, NO WAY! Not this year! Even if I had to crawl to get there, this gal was still going to volunteer her services to help those in need. Amen. The traffic thankfully wasn't that bad heading downtown and we arrived with fifteen minutes to spare.
Our city has a very high poverty rate, ranked #4 this year with over 85,000 people falling below poverty lines. There is a lot of people who could use help, especially through the holiday season. We know this very well since we also help Brandon & Ray, two gentleman we met this summer who call the streets, "Home."
I signed us up back in October to help assist serving dinner to the homeless and those in need. We didn't realize until we arrived in the meeting room what exactly our jobs would require us to do through out the fall feast gathering. There were approximately 1,000 volunteers but only 900 showed up at registration. They were VERY organized and local businesses also took the time to take care of the volunteers with plenty of coffee, water, milk and baked goods. Upon our entry into the large convention center we both found ourselves to be very humbled. There were approximately 5,500 people that received free coats and other cold winter gear, free medical checks-dental and vision along with free cell phones and service. There were well over 3,800 dinners served and another 4,000 boxed dinners to go. There was plenty of things to do for the children which included a free petting zoo, indoor face painting, corn hole, video games along with other kids activities such as making pilgrim hats and hand turkeys.
Out of 10, we were the smallest group and the only group who would be actually in close contact with the public, those needing assistance. Our job was to rotate between hundreds of tables and over 3,000 people in order to make sure no one was sitting by themselves because the main purpose of the fall gathering for the homeless and needy was to make them feel, "Welcome." Not alone. Everyone who came to the dinner already experience enough loneliness in their life. Today was to be different. It is Thanksgiving. We were told the day isn't for us but for them. After our volunteer experience I tend to believe we were the ones most blessed by those who were just happy to have someone to talk to during a very sad time in their lives, the holidays. Once we got all our information we were given 40 minutes to visit the various rooms through out the large convention center so we could become familiar where everything was located. Time literally flew by!
There wasn't one person who volunteered that didn't have a huge smile on their face. That included the thousands of those who showed up asking for assistance. There wasn't any cranky holiday folks nor cursing or showing of single finger gestures. Instead there was hours of smiles on thousands of adults along with the sounds of children laughing and playing. They had various finger foods scattered through out different locations being served by volunteers. I call them, "Angels."
Once our time was up in order to familiar ourselves with everything, we then all met back into the meeting room for a short prayer before beginning our shift. Within our small group of 100 volunteers there wasn't one person who still wasn't smiling and sharing kind words with others. There were families who were volunteering, Grandparents, couples, Mothers with small children and even a few church members. Eric was so taken back by all the warm friendly people that instead of becoming tired, he was actually wide awake. There was only two people representing clergy, myself, along with a Reverend and a few of his church members. We both had group shirts that helped show we were together. Ours was the only ones that had Santa on them which became a huge hit with the children. Above Santa it said, "Believe."
Dinner was served at 11:30am, this after prayer and a few words were spoken for those looking for additional assistance that wasn't already provided at the event. Our group dispersed into two different directions, dividing up between the hundreds of tables. I couldn't tell you how many people I spoke to seeing I literally lost track after just the first 30 minutes. Everyone had a different story to share about being alone on Thanksgiving. Not one person we both spoke to had any family or family that was willing to share Thanksgiving with them. Some were in need of not just food but medical services, others had only the clothes on their back, there were children with parents living on the streets who shared stories of having to alternate using the same sleeping bag due to beds in the local shelters were already full. We met gentleman who lost their spouses and had no one left and were just looking for someone to share their Thanksgiving meal and a few kind words. Some were in need of help and just encouragement to help maintain their sobriety. One gentleman I met who was in his late 70's just got released from the hospital after suffering a stroke and had no where to stay due to family who said the drive out of state to come get him was just too far for them. We also met a few large families that were there to celebrate Thanksgiving because their children had Down Syndrome and they could not afford their medical care whether alone a holiday dinner. One Oriental woman told her story of recently coming to the states with her husband so he could receive medical care and a heart pacemaker only to become widowed three months later. She had no family in the states and could not afford a plane ticket to go back home.
It was hard keeping your composure through out the dinner and entertainment that included a children's ballet performance and live band. Everyone we met truly touched our hearts. I have never come across such warm, kind hearted people in my entire life. It was one of the best Thanksgivings I have had in quite sometime. In years. Eric said it was the first Thanksgiving since being on active duty that he felt such overwhelming love between everyone and the experience of having real, genuine conversations. The way Thanksgiving and the holidays used to be. Back in the day. There wasn't children, teens or adults hanging on their cell phones, IPads or playing on their game systems. It was a dinner with family because to everyone there needing help we were their family and they wanted to share their life with us.
I will forever be grateful for my time spent with the thousands of kindred souls and I can only pray that God brings them the love and peace they so greatly deserve. God does hold a very special place for those who volunteered their time today. He calls them, "Angels."
BUCKET LIST #3...A permanent check as I signed us up for next years event.
HAVE A VERY HAPPY & BLESSED THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!
Posted by GastroparesisAwarenessCampaignOrg.
at 11:59 PM EST
Updated: November 29, 2013 8:09 AM EST