It's good to be reminded and directed once in a while.
Lately at work I've been trying to fill time and figuring out what I should be doing, what good I'm really doing at all. After the holiday season we go into a quieter time at ECPAC, more of a routine that's not interrupted every other week by a big event or food drive. It's all become a routine, I know what to expect every week and have confidence in my ability to complete what I need to complete to keep my arm of the place running. I've even made some improvements and changed some things as I needed to. I've become bored even on the days when the pantry is opened. I have such an amazing and dedicated staff of volunteers, and I know the antics of clients and have possibly begun to "see it all" (that may be premature though...), that I often find myself blending into the background and only coming forward when a question is being asked or an issue is arising.
Today my boss and I had a meeting with three women from a local church who are interested in hosting a large-scale food drive and doing some big projects (like massive spring cleaning) for us within the next few months. Pat and I spent about a half hour relaying to them information about the different branches of the service wing of the council, how each came to be and how each affects the lives of those in Pasadena. I give this speech pretty often and usually people are impressed and complementary, but this was different. I can't say if they were more genuine in their gushing complements or if it was just a "click" in our personalities, but after they left I felt rejuvenated in a way I don't normally after these talks with possible volunteers and donors.
What I do does matter. It's OK that I come home exhausted. There's a lot to get done. I process a lot every day and it's OK if some days I can't take it all in with love and dignity. I look a lot of things straight in the eye and often have to say "No" to some very desperate people, usually just because I can only provide as many services as are needed and I know there are really not any other places they can go. I've been loosing patience more quickly lately, feeling more worn and grumpy at work. It was good to be uplifted by a group of well-meaning women. It was good to be reminded that all of this is important, even if at the end of the day its a lot of bandages on gaping wounds. If people we're not fed today, there would be no one to put into long-term housing or to take full-time jobs.
I worry about being self-serving. That I am giving my time to others and working in this industry only to make myself feel better. I worry that by feeling even a little prideful in the work I'm doing I'm not being fully honest to myself or fair to my clients. Am I stepping on their backs if I'm lifting myself up and making myself feel better because of their poverty? I'm not sure, but as for today - its OK to feel refreshed and rejuvenated by well-meaning women telling me what I do is awesome and important.