Thursday, January 22, 2009

Community Service

Often, in between projects I make a chemo hat, or mittens to give to the mitten tree or a square for an afghan. Many of you do the same thing. I don’t regulate myself with these charity gifts but do feel better for the giving.

On January 12th I, and I'd guess a couple of million others, received a Call to Service email from Michelle Obama. In part, it said, "It will take ordinary citizens working together with a common purpose to get this country back on track. This national day of service is an important first step in our continuing commitment. Whatever service activity you organize or take part in.......... you can help start this important journey."

I knew this was sent out by a staff person, and not directly by Michelle, to those of us who helped with Obama’s campaign. What moved me were the facts that she took the time to ask and to make this well said video and that she is sincere about helping others in whatever community we are in. I thought about what I could do and realized that the best thing to do is something you are good at or have fun doing. Hence.....

I called and asked for a room at St John’s Episcopal Church, where community service is a long time tradition as Loaves & Fishes (our soup kitchen) has been functioning for over 30 years. Then I signed up at and announced the Knitting/Crocheting for the Community session for last Monday, 1/19, MKL, Jr Day.

Right away there was a big response from the internet and from my regular Knit Night group. also sent out emails linking to the site. Many people were ready to be doing something like this and grateful for the opportunity to serve.

On Monday evening, over the course of 4 hours, 24 people signed in, 14 hats and scarves were made and many other items started. We shared stash and needles and books and patterns. We helped each other learn new stitches and instructions. We ate snacks and introduced ourselves to each other. We also agreed to keep meeting monthly.

Monday night’s offerings have been taken to a rural Food Pantry for distribution.

Listening to Obama’s Inauguration speech I heard many wonderful points that are heartening but also this concept reviewed and encouraged not only by our newest president but also in the Benediction given by Reverend Lowery.

We have germinating plans for our group that go beyond just making hats. We want eventually to be teaching people to knit their own warm garments, their own dishcloths and ditty bags and to give one back to us for every one or two made. We don’t see the need for service knitting ending any time soon but we do see how we can help others to help themselves and therefore lessen the need.

"The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good." Barack Obama from his Inauguration Speech

In the mail yesterday I received an invitation to try out an ad free monthly magazine called The Sun. The invite contained samples from the magazine, one of which is the following interview.

Nothing To Lose But Our Illusions
An interview with David Edwards

David Edwards: It’s not enough to just sit there and have compassionate thoughts. Your compassionate thoughts need to be reflected in what you do. How can you aspire to compassion and yet work for an arms manufacturer? You need to help other people.

Derrick Jensen: What do you say to people who feel they are busy struggling to get by and don’t have time to help others?

Edwards: Once you start to see through the myth of status, possessions, and unlimited consumption as a path to happiness, you’ll find that you have all kinds of freedom and time. It’s like a deal you can make with the universe: I’ll give up greed for freedom. Then you can start putting your time to good use.

Jensen: And if someone says, “But the problems are so big what can one person do?”

Edwards: Once you realize that helping others is also helping yourself, the size of the overall problems becomes irrelevant. You’re not a one-man or one-woman army out to save the whole world. You help simply because it does good and it feels good.


rebecca jc said...

What a woman of action you are Susan. Thanks for the inspirational deeds and words.

Katie said...

What a lovely thing you did! Very neat plans your group had. It's wonderful the way people can find different ways to contribute.