Hungry, homeless, anxious eyes greet me as I step through the door of Food Share. Earlier this year I felt like I needed to do something to keep my life appreciation fresh and real. I have been donating money to Food Share for years. I thought I would make my commitment to contributing back to life deeper by volunteering my time. Every time I share my time there, waves of warm appreciation roll over me about my own life as its finally solid and stable with a good support structure.
Looking everyone in the face as I greet them, I know their struggle. I understand the shame a person feels being on welfare or having to ask for hand up in life. From childhood years to my early adult years, social assistance was a helpful ribbon threading through my life providing some of my basic daily survival needs.
Despite their desperate situation, the people that come through my grocery line are polite. They are conscientious about following the rules for the quantity and types of food that are on their approved list. They demonstrate a willingness to help haul groceries to their cars. For the most part, they look you in the face when they speak. When they don't, I'll try to get them to crack a smile and some will joke around in return. They are who they are and to me, they are salt-of-the-earth type people. You can feel their tired spirit, good heart, and life struggles on their sleeves.
When I’m there, it can take only a single heartbeat to throw me back through memories. Memories of standing in food assistance lines, rifling through boxes of old clothes given to my family, and my mom filling out reduced and free lunch program forms stand out from my past. I remember the way people looked at my family as we made our way through life. Although, remembering those stares hits my self-worth from time-to-time, it also makes me compassionate towards people struggling to understand what creates life and make ends meet.
Going back to work after bagging groceries leaves me feeling like I’m in a bit of split reality. After work, I often go to the grocery market for my own household groceries for the week. People seem relaxed pushing their carts, music is playing over speakers, and smells of fresh deli food saturate the air. The two worlds create serious friction in my mind. Does that ever happen to you? It makes me feel like one of those Looney Tunes characters who shakes its head back-and-forth rapidly and makes silly sounds because it can’t believe what its feeling and seeing!
Donating money to charities that touch my heart has kept me open hearted and humble. Donating also brings me great joy as I know when I contribute to places other than Food Share, it helps the artists I support build their dreams! However, choosing to donate my time at Food Share has invigorated my reasons for living in the present and being thankful. It reminds me not to complain and to keep my heart helpful to people who have different paths in life or who are stuck. It’s keeping my appreciation for my life fresh and definitely very real. I have struggled with life basics many times in life and could easily again. No amount of money donation can replace being there in person and allows me to share my heart energy and to encourage people. Sharing in person keeps me connected to the diverse hearts that make up our humanity. I love this because its challenging, humbling, and giving.
I LOVE hearing how my friends are volunteering time and money to people and causes that touch their heart. I also LOVE seeing people on social media who I don’t know doing wonderful things like building water wells in other countries, helping with education, and teaching people to create a business for themselves in a third world country.
If you are choosing to share your heart, time, or money, that’s so wonderful, awesome and rad!
This blog honors my dad and mom this month. He was an amazing volunteer in his life.
My mom did everything she could to keep things rolling smooth at home.
If you'd like to know more about Helena Food Share or donate, you can click on the picture in this blog.
Blog by Mary Riitano...
I'm a Montana actress on a journey sharing my heart and growth through blogging, stories, and poetry, I have faith you'll find empowerment and inspiration to create like a champion in your own life!
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