When I decided to complete another 30 day kindness challenge this year, I had only one rule: no repeats.
It was simple–I had something important to prove. I wanted to show that there are unlimited ways to help, to give back, to make a difference. So I challenged myself to come up with new ideas and complete acts of kindness that were different from what I did last year.
But this was my exception.
This was the one act of kindness that I knew I had to do again…after all, this is the one that literally changed my life.
Tonight I went back to the place that started it all–to where my perspective changed and my heart opened.
I went back to a homeless shelter.
Last year my mom, step-dad, sister, and I served lunch at a shelter for the women and families. Simply put, it changed me. It not only opened my eyes to just how blessed I was, but more importantly, it made me feel like I actually had the power to make the world better…even if it was just one simple act of kindness at a time.
So tonight it was back the beginning for me–but the second chapter was a little different.
First, I ended up serving at a different shelter–this time for the men. And there was one other big difference–one that made it even more special to me…I brought my husband.
Over the course of two hours, working along side a small group of other volunteers, we helped prepare meals for and served 190 men.
And while this year had some differences from last, several things remained:
- I was again overwhelmed by the gracious appreciation of the men we were serving. “Thank you so much!” “We appreciate you being here!” These words were repeated countless times to us. They were humble…and they were grateful. I know that each of these men have a story–how they ended up at the shelter, the dreams they once had and the ones that they still hold. I looked in their eyes and had compassion.
- I was reminded just how fortunate I am–and not to take even basic things for granted. I’m not going to lie, when I saw the food we were serving, I wasn’t impressed. They had several chicken casseroles prepared then each man was given a small serving of green beans, baked beans, potato salad, a piece of bread, and a dessert. But here’s the issue: half way through dinner service, we ran out of both kinds of beans and the potato salad. The desserts had dates on them that showed they were almost two weeks old. But these men were hungry; they didn’t have other options and were incredibly grateful for whatever they had on their plate. It made me think about dinnertime at my house and how much food goes to waste. Being there, seeing these men–it made me look at food differently and appreciate what I have even more.
- And again it was proved that small acts of kindness can make a big impact. Admittedly this wasn’t the most romantic date that I’ve had with my husband, but still there was something that I felt standing next to him, working with him, and watching him serve. We were a team–making a difference together.
Tonight I may have gone back to the beginning of my kindness journey, but I know it’s not the end.