Monday, April 19, 2010

Why We Volunteer

Some highlights from Sunday night's neighborhood potluck:

- Over 50 old friends and new neighbors, sharing a meal and conversation in the basement of our local Catholic school

- Kids doing gymnastics on the small stage in back of the room. Only one split lip, not a single tear

- Dave's cheesy grits!

- A karate demonstration by twenty young people who attend the storefront martial arts school on the corner

- Three adorable girls from the demo (including my favorite, far right with red belt) charitably complimenting my Spanish

- Learning that Tim and Conor, our sweet new neighbors up the street, will soon house backyard chickens

- The debut of babies Eli and Eddie

- At least 20 people, many of whom we met for the first time, staying late to help clean up

- The agreeable Irish nun who came to our rescue when the door didn't lock behind us (as we'd been promised) and fearing we'd have to camp out all night to ensure no one burglarized the building

- Laughter, connections made, and outpourings of gratitude from neighbors

I used to rail against volunteer work on principle. 'Labor should be compensated!' I'd say. And it continues to bother me beyond expression that social services have increasingly shifted to unpaid sectors of American culture. All that said, I have to declare with certainty: Sunday night's work was compensated labor.

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