Sunday, September 20, 2009


I've talked about how I need to figure some things out about myself, and what I want. But doing that is very tiresome for me. I wonder how much I really need to 'figure out'. Aren't people always changing? If you waited to live your life until you knew everything about yourself, you would never live. I don't want to shortchange myself; I want to do what I need to, if I really need to do it. But in the meantime, it feels very self-focused. I have wanted to try to serve others more and have rarely actually made it out the door. So adding one more self-focused thing to my plate seems the wrong way to go. The advice from Bryant S. Hinckley to Gordon B. Hinckley to "forget yourself and go to work" seems applicable here. I hope I am not just trying to avoid difficult things, but it seems that forgetting myself might be the best route to finding myself.

As for actually getting out and serving. . . I want to do something that makes a real difference, that isn't too stressful for our family. The thing I keep coming back to is visiting lonely men and women in nursing homes. I am scared to death to do this - I'm so pathetically shy. Seriously, I have wanted to do this since I was a teenager, but have always talked myself out of it. Pathetic. Doing this certainly wouldn't make a society-wide difference, but it would make a difference to one person. But then I picture my kids running around like deranged animals and ripping out some guy's oxygen line or something. I guess we could try it and see how it goes. If they give someone a heart attack, we won't go back ;-)

The main thing that my kids have expressed an interest in is helping homeless people. We have talked about making up food bags to give out when we see someone in need, but have not done it. We have given a few dollars here and there when we see someone who seems to need it. We did try to volunteer at the food bank, and they told us that first we should come by for an educational family night. They had the kids make some Valentine's cards (it must have been last February when we went). It was OK, but they didn't tell us how to actually move on to volunteering at the bank. I looked up the criteria again the other day, and you have to be 12 to help. I think that's rather ridiculous, because my little kids would love sorting food. I am sure it's a safety issue, as they've probably got forklifts and such that would run over them.

What else can or do you do with very little kids? I would assume that for most things, I would wear my 2-year old on my back to keep him contained, and so it would be my 5 and 7 year olds that would be helping.


Chandelle said...

I used to work at hospices and nursing homes, and I can tell you that those people love to see kids and at any age, kids are great additions. There really isn't much of a concern about IV lines and so on. If they know how to play lots of games and if they like doing puzzles, they'd certainly be welcome.

It might seem contradictory for such a bleeding heart, but I don't give money to homeless people anymore. In SLC I became really disillusioned and cynical about the good I was supposedly doing by handing out money. Instead, I started carrying around little business cards with numbers and addresses for social services - the VA, DWS, the food bank, etc. - and I'd hand those out instead when people asked for money.

I got suspicious when I started offering food and almost everyone turned it down. After being in "the system" myself, I realized how many services are available and that there's really no reason for people on the street to not be able to eat.

I still have a lot of compassion for their situation, and I believe there are a lot of variables to consider and there shouldn't be blame placed anywhere, but I also believe that it's really unhelpful, somewhat enabling, to offer money.

Volunteers of America might be a good place to start looking for opportunities, as well as United Way. I love your idea of getting out of yourself to find yourself. For me, nothing has helped heal depression so well as helping others.

Katie said...

I've heard that about giving out money, but I figure that it's better to give than not to. Maybe I'm wrong though.

I happened to stumble across a BYU Alumni service link the other day, and they listed several nursing homes and care centers that need visits. I'll keep those other resources in mind too.

Chandelle said...

When I worked in hospice and especially nursing homes, it was always shocking how many people were NEVER visited by friends or family. Some of them just didn't have anybody left, but others had family who just wouldn't visit for whatever reason. So you would be doing a real service to bring some new friends.

Katie said...

I am going to have to just suck it up and do it. I mean, it has literally been 10+ years that I've been thinking about doing this. Why am I so spineless? I was reading a horoscope thing, and it said that Scorpios have poor characters -- guess it's true!!