I do volunteer work for an organization that provides food, clothing, hygiene products, and various other survival items for the homeless… well, it’s not just homeless people who come to the door. There are quite a few people who come that have a place to live, but they still come for food or other essential items because the amount of money they are spending on other necessities prevents them from affording the items they are coming to get from us. The name of the organization is The Good Samaritan Program (further referred to in this article as the GSP) and it is affiliated with a Catholic church that is next door to the house that the items are distributed from.
I started volunteering at the GSP several years ago and it has been an absolute blessing for me to be in a position where I can give something back to the community.
Since I’ve been “working” at the GSP, I have gotten to know a lot of the regulars that come in and we sometimes have a chance to talk and share life stories. When they come to us, I want their visit to be the best part of their day. People and companies will donate various additional goodies from time to time… pastries, donuts, bagels, sodas… a variety of extra items that are viewed as luxuries to the people who come to see us. I love those days. I load them up with everything I can.
Most of these people are no different than you and me. In fact, many of them had all the “stuff” that life has to offer. They tell me their stories. They talk about having the happy family and the nice house and the comfy job and the money and the travel… you know, the stuff that many of you might have right now at this point in your life. But now they’re out in the street for various reasons.
Some of the reasons you might expect… alcoholism, drug abuse and criminal charges, to name a few. But for many, the reasons are not as easily expected. Job loss, divorce, medical problems and people ripping them off are a few more maladies that have landed these kind folks on the street… sometimes entire families.
But ya know the funny thing is? With rare exception, these people have a really good attitude. A good attitude about life! A good attitude about the future! They are kind and polite and cheerful and friendly… and GRATEFUL! Grateful to be alive. Grateful that the sun is shining. Grateful for their health… anything, really.
I think that’s something we all tend to forget. We have such focus on the “stuff” we forget just how wonderful it is just to be alive. We tend to forget about how this glorious planet is. We tend to not be grateful for the loved ones in our lives.
Instead, we find ourselves being ticked off that we don’t have the boat the neighbor has, or we can’t afford a nicer ride, or the remodeling job we can’t seem to afford, or how we can’t fit the next biggest cable TV package in our budget, or what a mess this country is in, or what a crappy job we have, or how much we pay in taxes, or how a friend said something mean about us, or how our spouse who didn’t do something that was asked of them.
Man oh man oh man.
There has been something that I do on occasion that really changes my whole perspective when times seem difficult. When I wake up in the morning, before I turn on the TV in the bedroom and watch my 200-plus cable channels, before I jump in my decent car and go over to the store to grab my cup of gourmet coffee, before I choose from the huge selection of nutritious breakfast items that I have in my cupboards and refrigerator, before I go to my closet full of fairly new and clean clothes to wear… instead of thinking of what problems I have, or worry about what tomorrow brings, I think of ALL the things I AM grateful for…
And I don’t necessarily mean all the things I just mentioned. Yes, I’m grateful for all those things. But I think about my loving wife; I think about my beautiful, healthy children; I think about the reasonably good health I’m in; I think about what a wonderful country I live in; I think about the birds chirping outside my window… the things that I sometimes overlook… or look past.
I am such a lucky man. I am so blessed.
See, these homeless people that I’m speaking of have it figured out and they are truly blessed.
A different perspective can go a long, long way.
In the words of the Great Dr. Wayne Dyer – “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”