On Tuesday February 22, 2011 I celebrated another Birthday, it wouldn’t be lady like to ever tell you my age, but for those of you who already know, tell anyone, and I’ll put a fire lit paper bag on your porch.
I can only speak for myself in saying that every year on my birthday I reflect on the past year, what I’ve accomplished, where I’ve failed, the people I’ve met and what I plan to do for the next year. You may not do it on your Birthday, because lets face it, doing shots off a strippers abs and pounding back a few brews is much more of a priority than reflecting on your year – for some. Usually I’d fall into the same category, celebrating ‘my’ day by ending it face deep in a toilet, struggling to remember how I dressed myself that morning and figuring out the turn of events that lead me to such a state.
This year I decided to do it a little different, although I did reflect and all that good stuff, re-set my goals and fine tuned what really needed to be focused on, I came to the realization that I spent my last year in an entirely selfish state, only worrying about me, what I was doing, what I wanted, and to be honest it disgusted me how much I was so wrapped up in what I wanted and completely ignorant to others around me. My friend (@donnamct) came to me a few weeks prior telling me to Volunteer at Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids (BB4CK), to celebrate her birthday, which just so happened to fall on February 23. Although at first I was thinking “Man, I just wanna go out and party on my birthday, there’s no way I could do it.” I agreed and decided that volunteering, making lunches in mass production couldn’t be that hard and being surrounded by people who wanted to better our community was a much nicer way of celebrating another year older. The next morning I was up at 6 AM to prepare myself for the day; way earlier than my 8-9AM usual wake up time, but after detaching myself from a Coffee IV I was ready to go.
When I arrived I was greeted by a couple familiar faces and a few strangers. I think naturally we all have a tendency to want to stick beside people we know and not venture into an unfamiliar situation. The Volunteer in charge of the operation, Mimi (who we’ll refer to as the General) gave us a letter A, B, or C. You don’t need me to tell you what those letters meant. Before joining my group The General took me through vigorous hand washing exercise that we’d have to do EVERY TIME we took our gloves off, I’m telling you, I haven’t washed my hands like that in my life. Think of when a doctor scrubs in for surgery, that was us. I didn’t know a single person in my group and for a brief moment I thought “man this could suck, I don’t know anyone.” but quickly snapped myself out of it, this experience wasn’t about me, it was about others, by opening myself up I met some fabulous people who all helped make the experience a great one. The station was set up like assembly line, consisting of Tuna making sandwich machines! (You could call us Volunteers too) My part was to spread the tuna over the pieces of bread that were spread across the table 6 pieces x 11, top them off and begin to bag and package the Sandwiches.
So what is Brown Bagging it? Here are some Facts about Brown Bagging It:
- They are privately funded–no government or United Way support is accepted
- BB4CK became a registered charity in 2002
- BB4CK has facilitated the provision of some 350,000 lunches just since September 2010
- They are delivering to more than 60 schools every day (sometimes as high as 80)
- Been around for 21 years – Who knew that? Not me.
Bob McInnis, Executive Director sat down with us as a group to discuss the program and to be honest when he explained the companies philosophy it really made me think and sat with me. BB4CK does not believe that what the families which hungry children come from need a packed lunch, nor do they believe that the organization was created to fill the cavity left by families who for reasons of their own, can’t provide lunches for their children. BB4CK believes that a community-centred approach to find out what it is these families need in order to provide the necessities is what is compulsory. For example If the parent can’t provide for their family because their work truck is broken, BB4CK wants to be able to help fix the truck, get the parent back working; that’s the real problem – no income means no lunches, solving one major problem allows the ripple effects (of the problem) to be mended along the way too. They ha
It was so rewarding and I’m so grateful for the huge eye opener and humbling experience that I received, going forward I will make a huge effort to volunteer more of my time. BIG thanks to the group who not only attended and volunteered their time they assisted James, Donna and myself in celebrating a birthday none of us will forget!
If any of you readers are looking to volunteer locally, do a quick google search that fits your location. For Calgarians you can click here