by Dafna Michaelson, Volunteer
In the year and a half that has followed since my 2009 Journey across America to find and share the stories of community problem solvers I have been blessed to work with the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK) to develop materials based upon the stories of my journey which help create safe social and emotional learning spaces in the classroom using kindness as the vehicle. A couple months ago, my colleagues from RAK and I traveled to San Francisco, from our home base in Denver, CO, to attend TedxGoldenGateEd, a conference based upon the concept of compassion in our society and in the development of our youth. Compassion is a wonderful companion to kindness as one breeds the other.
The conference was fullfilling and enlightening and once again reinforced that the work we are doing with RAK will surely create an impact in our society and the type of world we would like to create for ourselves and for future generations, our children. With two hectic days of meetings and lectures we found ourselves on Sunday morning truly pumped up while physically exhausted. My colleague Marilyn, a lover of San Francisco and a lover of people, had done a little research before we left Denver and learned about this groundbreaking, community serving and indeed kindness teaching church called GLIDE Memorial United Methodist and we decided we would rise early Sunday morning, instead of our physical desire to sleep in, and see if we could not spread a little kindness of our own.
The next morning Marlyn looked down as she reported that had we wished to volunteer we should have registered in advance. So all was not lost, we chose to attend the morning service and at least experience the message the church shares with the community. (As a Jewish woman I was also excited to experience my first church service!) We were greeted by Les, a warm and engaging volunteer who took our hands as we entered the building. Learning that we had about thirty minutes until the service began we asked if we could request a volunteer assignment. You don’t get if you don’t ask! Les led us downstairs and we were told that if we came down after the service they would let us know if there were any spots available.
The moment the service ended (an entire additional blog would be required to share about the warm, musically exciting and community strong message given through this unique service experience) my colleagues and I exchanged hugs with the friendly congregants and rushed downstairs. In our good fortune we were assigned the task of making sandwiches for the bag lunches to be handed out later in the day.
A big container of meat and stacks of whole wheat bread awaited us while my colleagues and I got busy seeing how many sandwiches we could make- with love and attention to detail- in the shortest amount of time possible. We got it down to a loaf a minute at one point! Each sandwich made with the intention of creating a meal that we would feed to our own children.(Pictured L-R: Brooke Nord, Marilyn Decalo and Dafna Michaelson)
The GLIDE community accepted us in, even though we were strangers who had come in off the streets, and gave us the opportunity to share in their daily work of kindness to the community. Surrounded by volunteers giving of themselves, we fit right in to the family and were treated as such.
The work of GLIDE is the true work of humanity. They teach us that it is our role as a community to care for the most vulnerable and as we give them strength to overcome what challenges them we too become stronger and more able to achieve our own daily goals and our overarching goal of leaving this world a stronger, more loving and kinder place than we found it!