loren Eric Swanson: Devoting a Saturday to Service

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Devoting a Saturday to Service

Orange County Register
Sunday, July 30, 2006

Some 5,000 people from 28 churches help out in their communities by feeding the poor and aiding neighbors.
The Orange County Register
COSTA MESA - It was Saturday morning, so, of course, Laurel Alexander was leaning on her walker, chatting up neighbors about hummingbirds.
Retired barber Chuck Russell rolled up in his wheelchair looking for pretty ladies to sweet talk. And Jackie Studdert? Now 83, the Texas plain-talker called to a passerby: "I'll tell you how the cow ate the cabbage."
Translation: I'll tell you what's going on.
What was going on at Playport Mobile Village had its 140 seniors abuzz. People – lots of them – were roaming the narrow streets with axes, spades and hammers offering help. For free.
"Words cannot express the feeling you get," said resident Katalina Engar, who no longer can pull weeds since having five hip surgeries and cancer. "I didn't want to seem like I was gushing, but I told them I was grateful."
Young people, she added, generally don't care about seniors. There's a stigma. But this?
"It's like a miracle!"
The miracle workers in this case were about 90 members of Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, participating in Serve Day.
They wouldn't be here if not for a scheduling conflict in 2000. In those days, Rock Harbor rented space at the Costa Mesa Senior Center for services. One weekend was completely booked, so church officials sent the congregation into the streets to do good.
It was so popular that everyone wanted to do it again. And it has grown every year. About 5,000 people from 28 churches (20 from Orange County) now perform 250 projects, including feeding the poor, giving free car washes, handing out flowers and washing windows.
The point, said this year's coordinator, the Rev. David Trotter, pastor of Revolution Church in Long Beach, is to provide acts of service with no strings attached.
"Nobody owes us anything," he said. "The great lesson is that a small investment of time and energy has a huge return in the life of the people you serve."
The small investment for volunteers Denise Cannon and Andi Therrien included a quick dance on the red paving bricks they just re-laid for Loraine Pogue, 86.
"All these young girls could be going to the beach, having fun today," said Pogue, 86, before asking to pose for a picture with her helpers. "But they're doing this for me."
Therrien, 30, a Costa Mesa office manager, said it feels good to participate in something bigger than yourself.
"You're impacting more than just one person's yard or one person's trellis," she said. "You're impacting an entire community."
This was an oft-repeated theme Saturday: Small acts of kindness repeated by enough people enough times amount to something big. Maybe even a modern-day miracle – that anyone can perform.
Maybe that's why so many of the homeowners came out with cookies and water and words of thanks. And why Therrien handed a piece of paper to Pogue before leaving.
"It's my number," she said. "I live right up the road. Call me, and I'll be happy to come back."


At Tuesday, August 01, 2006 9:55:00 PM, Blogger Karl said...

Another good book I have read lately on this subject is Practicing Greatness by Reggie McNeal. Simple, easy to read, but good stuff -- new angles, and lots of reminders.


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