An early wakeup call had me driving down the mountain to meet up with a group of high school students from Christ the King in Moorhead, MN to help facilitate a week of service in Denver. The first day started out as usual, lots of travelling, planning, and scheduling. We had our days planned to a tee, transportation figured out, and our staff ready to go with all of the small details. All of us, including the 17 youth from Minnesota, had planned a spectacular week.
We partnered with Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection, otherwise known as DOOR, who paired us with agencies throughout Denver in need of volunteers. These projects were also planned; five different groups would spread out throughout the city so that together we would cover a wide range of organizations. Though there were several agencies, I worked with three throughout the week. One day I was at Food Bank of the Rockies, packing food that would eventually serve hundreds of people. Another day I served at Brothers Redevelopment, Inc., who was coordinating a paint-a-thon for the entire summer. The last day I worked at an organization known as KADEP, King Adult Day Enrichment Program, which serves mostly adults with MS, but also those with other adult onset neurological disabilities and illnesses.
Despite all this planning, there are some things that no matter what you do you can’t plan for it. No matter how much one may believe they are fully aware of what is to come, life has a crazy way of throwing things at you without much warning. Fortunately, the one thing we forgot to coordinate were the life changing moments that came when we least expected them. Of course our daily schedules were planned, pick-ups, drop-offs, lunches, and directions. But never did I foresee myself meeting and impacting some of the people and places that I did this week. Jerry, an adult at KADEP, who suffered from a brain aneurism and four brain surgeries, currently uses a wheelchair to get around. But that did not stop him from cracking jokes right and left and even kindly holding the door open for me after saying, “Ladies first.” We were there to connect with them, but with every conversation came a distinct interest in our lives. They wanted to learn about us just as much as we wanted to learn about them. They were no different than us, and they showed me that kindness is possible in all situations, not to mention, very contagious.
We also didn’t plan for the relationships that were created. We learned to serve alongside both our own group as well as several others. For instance, one day when we were painting, I took the time to stop and think about all of the different communities coming together to love on one another. At one time we had five different groups working together: DOOR, Brothers Redevelopment, Inc., Christ the King, YouthWorks, and Sky Ranch. To see the good that came out of all of these different groups working together was absolutely stunning. It reminded me of the amazing things that we can learn when we all come together for a great cause.
All in all, we didn’t plan for the amazing relationships, memories, and life-changing experiences. But that’s okay, because it isn’t our schedules we’ll put in picture frames, but our pictures, and it isn’t our travelling arrangements that we’ll remember the most, but our time with one another. And those are the things that don’t come about through hours of planning, but they form when we take the time to love one another, no matter who, what, where, or when.
-Meagan Murphy, Counselor