They came, they saw, they kicked butt

[Sorry for the skipped post last night. I was having a personal “enough” day and sat out my after-work hours on the porch talking with a good friend and sipping a cold bottle of hard cider, both of which helped immensely. Nothing serious, really – basically just the personal equivalent of a mental health day. Anyway, all better now.]

As for what’s been going on, mass volunteerage is what. That Baptist youth group from Mississippi I was telling you about have been here for the past two days and they’ve made a good start on getting the trailer painted. And they got the garden pond emptied and cleaned of a year or more of accumulated silt. And they dug up and planted a potato bed. And an onion bed. And weeded the tomato beds. And so on. I get tired just thinking about all the amazing work they’ve done.

I thought they were going to be here tomorrow, too, but it turns out they won’t be (bummer). The painting process was slowed by the fact that it’s “daily afternoon thunderstorm season” here in the mountain south, so we’ve had to wrap up the job sooner than I would have liked both days to give the paint time to dry before the rain came in. Yesterday, despite much thunder and wind, it never did rain at the trailer (although I hear they drove into a real rat-strangler not a mile down the road on their way back to camp for the night). Today, though, the rain came down barely an hour or so after they finished up for the day, so I hope the paint’s okay. You usually need to let it dry for a few hours before it can get rained on, but you get what you get with Ma Nature – and anyway it didn’t rain that much or that heavily this afternoon, so I think we got off lucky.

Anyway, they left all the paint and supplies (including a 6′ ladder) as a donation, so between me and the regular volunteers we should have the trailer finished by next week, depending on the weather. I’ll post pics when I can. It’s now a gorgeous cafe au lait tan with java trim. Luscious. (And it hides dirt, which is a plus.)

But the garden…oh my, the garden. I tell you, they got a month’s worth of work done out there and were genuinely happy to be doing it. To be honest, although I wish they could have stayed to finish the painting, I was actually beginning to stress out over what I was going to have the ones who weren’t painting do tomorrow, since they got so much done these past few days. It’s amazing what a bus-load of motivated kids can accomplish in just a few hours. Wow.

After their work today, I gave them all a tour of our “facilities” (it’s a double-wide trailer, so it didn’t take long) and gave them the run-down on what we did and the services we provided that they were helping to support with their work.

With groups like that, especially younger kids, I like to be very specific with them about how their work affects people directly, as opposed to the “thanks, guys, you made our trailer all shiny” superficial stuff. The fact is, if the trailer isn’t maintained (which we can’t afford to pay to have done on our own), it will fall apart and all of the people we serve will lose those services if that happens. Sometimes it’s hard for volunteers who aren’t working directly with clients to see that connection, so I always go out of my way to make it clear as a bell. I feel it’s important for people to know that their work really counts for more than just making the place pretty or keeping some seed potatoes from going bad. It directly keeps our work going, so we can make sure the folks we serve keep getting served.

The bottom line is that every inch of paint brushed on and every weed pulled directly contributes to families being fed, kids being kept healthier, parents being taught better parenting and disadvantaged minorities and immigrants being given a chance to become contributing citizens, better educated and trained employees and valuable community members. And these kids made that happen.

Thanks guys! You are so far beyond cool there simply are no adequate words. Good luck and God bless.

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