Good afternoon. It certainly has been an interesting couple of weeks. Of course, I could probably say that about pretty much any two-week period of time these last months. So much has been said about the state of our society, its faults and failures and our need to eliminate racial bias, poverty, despair, and hopelessness. I sometimes look at all of the problems and issues we are having; then I sigh and relegate myself to the ranks of those millions who see so much problem that they admit defeat before they begin to fight the battles.
Some years ago, I trained to be an EMT…Emergency Medical Technician. Those are the ones who help staff ambulance services, especially in the more rural areas of the country. During our training on mass casualties, the thing that was drilled into us more than anything else was the fact that our first response upon arriving at a mass-casualty incident would be to freeze and do nothing because there is so much need we wouldn’t know where to begin. We learned to begin by performing triage to determine who is most in need, who may be beyond need, and who can wait. Then we concentrate on one person at a time, and once we begin to attend to that one person, we don’t leave them unless we hand them off to another medically-trained person for further attention.
May I suggest much the same for those of you who long to help in some way, but are unsure where to begin due to the great need that you see? You first need to understand that you can’t fix everything…you can’t do everything…but you CAN do something. You can put your energies and resources into something that will make a difference. And by many of us doing the same thing, we can effect genuine and heartfelt change.
Jennifer White started ICT S.O.S. some ten years ago after learning about human trafficking in Wichita…looking at her own then 13 year old daughter…and determining that she would do what she could to fight that scourge. She is the founder and Executive Director of an organization that now reaches into all parts of that issue…law enforcement, mental health, prevention, education, physical health, prosecution…and has been the driving force behind much of the progress that has been made in this area.
You may see, as you travel the streets of Wichita, Paxton’s Blessing Boxes installed here and there. Paxton and his mom began that project four years ago when Paxton was six years old. Today, there are over 70 blessing boxes in multiple states of the US, many of which are in the Wichita area. As their web site says, “Everyone involved can make a positive change in a person’s life, ONE. BLESSING. AT. A. TIME.”
There are many, many other organizations, individuals, and groups who have seen the need, decided on one approach to meet that need, and have given time, energy, and resources to help meet that need… ONE. BLESSING. AT. A. TIME.”
You too can provide that one blessing for one person just like Jennifer, Paxton, and a host of people who are even now making a difference. Rather than expending your energy on Facebook and Twitter posts where you are regurgitating and propagating some meme of dubious value…rather than using the blessing of free speech to divide, judge, and cast yourself as somehow superior, why not actually do something that will make a positive difference? You don’t have to start a non-profit to do that. Nor do you have to put food boxes together and stock them. But you can volunteer for one already established. And you can check in with your church for opportunities to serve the underserved.
You can put food into a Paxton’s Blessing Box. You can help Jennifer and her volunteers sort donated goods and re-pack them for fresh-start bags. You can pick up trash along the river or in a park. You can volunteer at Botanica, the zoo, The Lord’s Diner, Kansas Food Bank, or some other such place.
Try being kind to those you encounter…the check-out people in the stores, wait staff in a restaurant, your barber or salon worker, the postal employee who sells stamps. Give them an extra amount of appreciation for what they do. Tip them well, if tips are allowed.
Shop local businesses as much as you can. Let them know you appreciate their business and their desire to serve you. Be willing to pay a little more to buy it from a local business than from Amazon.
Donate to the Homeless Outreach Team of the Wichita Police Department. They have expenses not covered by city funds. Find a local charity and support it with your time and resources.
Visit a long term care center when they open again. Visit with those who live there and establish a relationship with them. Volunteer at your school when they open again. They could always use the help. Or, you can volunteer with Senior Services of Wichita or one of any number of organizations…call 211 and ask for some suggestions of where you might be able to serve.
The opportunities are endless. You can and will change hearts and lives. You may never see it in your lifetime, but you can be assured that your compassion and generosity will never go to waste. Find your niche…and fill it.