I have to write this quickly because I want to go to my next place to volunteer —
It’s not always easy to tell if what you’re doing is the right thing. This is especially true if it’s something unusual or abnormal. And walking 200+ miles to volunteer to help other people who have very little in terms of familiarity or common culture is one of those things.
Because of this, I wasn’t sure if I was exactly doing the right thing.
That was until this morning when I had met with American Red Cross leadership in Yuma. A regional director by the name of Jack was visiting. He was the first to remind me that what I was doing was important and amazingly unusual.
That was one reaction. The local director’s was something entirely more surprising. Tom, AKA Batman — lol I know — was recently in El Paso, Texas. He lit up and thanked me for stepping up, and going hundreds of miles beyond that. His praise uplifted and drove my day with renewed vigor.
After that encounter with optimism, I knew that I was, without a doubt, on the right path.
So with my pack still in tow, I hopped along towards the Yuma Community Food Bank.
When I had arrived to begin my first day of volunteering, I was outpouring positive energy and vibes.
“You didn’t know that was me this morning, huh?” Or something to that effect.
The volunteer coordinator, was a really kind woman — we’ll call her Annie, to respect her privacy. I hadn’t, for a number of reasons, recognized her though.
For one, when people call out from their vehicles I’m not the most receptive. Secondly, I was wearing my “beat-up sunglasses.” And most importantly, this was at 7 this morning, before I had had any coffee!
Most people don’t even get out of bed in the morning for less than a dollar, yet I walked hundreds of miles and with a seemingly endless supply of energy, put together meal kits for families and lifted heavy boxes of produce. It still wasn’t enough though. We helped hundreds of people, but I knew my mission couldn’t stop there.
I’m picking up WiFi to write this before moving on to my next location to volunteer.
I had recently called the Salvation Army Social Services of Yuma, after the five hour day volunteering. I, colloquially, call them Salvo.
Tonight, I’ll most likely be spending all night at the shelter set up by Salvo. The same shelter being logistically managed by the Red Cross, according to Batman, and fed by the Yuma Community Food Bank.
Batman had mentioned that they needed volunteers desperately, but I hadn’t completely believed it until I heard it in the voice of the coordinator on the other line.
It won’t be my first time volunteering with a shelter. When I lived in New York, in my hometown of Port Jervis, I volunteered with the organization Empowering Port Jervis and I was able to find time in my schedule to spend the night at the shelter.
This time may be very different, but hopefully it’ll be an educational experience more than a stressful one. I’m excited to help, but on a personal note, I’m sure I should find a place to trade out my clothes. Can’t volunteer without looking fresh right? We’ll see. 😅
This is the point in my article where I reiterate that these organizations need volunteers.
There’s always another adventure just around the river bend. For me, this leg of that adventure will end in July when the Arizona summer heat will be closer to a hundred and twenty degrees Fahrenheit (120°F). That’s when I’ll be returning to my trail onwards towards the cool ocean breeze of San Diego, California. I can’t backpack in that weather and volunteer at the same time, but maybe you’re not backpacking, and maybe you can find the free time.
Please try to.