I went to a Literacy Volunteer event tonight. I knew I wouldn’t know anyone and I didn’t really know what to expect. It was part of my little world though. A big part of my right now.
I headed to the address knowing the road but not really the location. When I realized I’d passed the street number on my left, I turned around to try again. Re-approaching the property, I knew I’d been there in the recent past. I was there this summer when I was looking for yard sales. The Senior Center next door had a sign advertising a craft fair. I had come and gone quickly, only taking a quick look inside and not even buying a raffle ticket. It took me longer to park than make the assessment that there were no vintage bargains. I hadn’t been in the mood for a community event and felt like I’d wasted my time.
This evening, I found myself parking in the same lot and went into the Veteran’s Center. I showed up to the pot luck event with my lemon bundt cake shortly after the night had started. I walked over to a table with an empty seat and introduced myself. The three ladies said hello and that I could join them.
After getting some food and tea, I sat down. We all talked about what brought us to the organization and what our current roles were. I hadn’t realized I was sitting down with the new board members. I enjoyed hearing about their backgrounds and they seemed to like the story of how I got involved and where else I’d volunteered within the United Way. I was pleased but also felt silly. I joked that where I’d grown up, now lived, went to college and currently worked were all within a small 30-mile radius.
The business meeting started and the new board was presented with bouquets. Other long-term volunteers received carnations, certificates were presented to the students and the tutors were thanked. The woman I’d trained with was the emcee. Once the annual formalities were complete, some of the students wanted to say a few words.
An Albanian woman that currently works at Walmart talked about her children now finishing college. A Russian woman, with a future career in stand-up, humored us with her box top experience at the local grade school. As a woman from the far East also approached the podium, the ladies at my table explained she had been a brigadere General in the Chinese army. There were also several petite Buddhist nuns from Vietnam. Another Vietnamese woman got up and sang like an American angel. They all gave their thanks to the organization, emcee and volunteers in their own special way.
I now know I’d previously been to the location, so that I knew where to go. I was there again tonight to appreciate my training and new assignment. I met some extremely interesting and motivated people, both giving and receiving. This big community event was far from a waste of time. After all, it is my small world.