This I Believe
I believe in the power of just being there for someone. Not all support is direct, like giving advice or offering help. There is a great deal of strength in just the presence of a positive spirit.
This belief was really instilled in me this past spring break when I went on a work trip with my church youth group. The thirty of us drove down to Biloxi, Mississippi to help rebuild houses that were affected by Hurricane Katrina. We were all anticipating the cliché gratification of helping people. When I arrived on my site I was disappointed that the old woman whose house I would paint wouldn’t meet us due to illness. Still we did our work like she was watching us, and were happy to leave without a thank you. Then midweek we were invited to go to a dedication ceremony. The Back Bay Mission organization celebrated the finish of a house by throwing a party for the owner. We had not been working on this particular site but were delighted to go anyway. The owner was a mentally disabled shrimp fisherman whose house was destroyed by the hurricane. As we arrived I was a little uncomfortable. I felt out of place among his family and undeserving of attending this important day for him. I was caught off guard when his elderly mother came up to me crying and gave me a hug, thanking us for being here. I was a little confused by this gesture; after all I don’t even know him. Then I realized that showing up showed her that people are there for her son. So although we would never meet the woman we directly helped, we were still able to see the impact we made by showing that we care.
‘The remainder of our trip our group was approached by victims of Katrina thankful for our work. In New Orleans we were thanked again by a woman, who had permanently moved away after the storm, but was grateful to see us helping out in her former city. We barely made a dent in the still barren city, but the honking of horns and generosity of the people made me believe that we were a sign of hope. It would be impossible to give food to every homeless wonderer in Biloxi, or paint all the battered homes, but our act of driving 16 hours to this tragedy-struck city showed that people do care and relief will come.
I can now recognize how much of an impact people can have. Everyday people can make a difference by offering nothing more than their attention. It is overwhelming to see all the horrible conditions people have to live all over the world, and feeling guilty that you can’t due more to help them. But now I see that it really doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s life. Listening to someone and letting people know you care is more meaningful than you think.
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