Today, I woke up in Vancouver, Canada, where my travels have lead me for the next four weeks and experienced a feeling I have never felt before, one of being worthless.
Wait, before you think about what you have just read or maybe even let out a sigh because of what you read, this story is not about sympathy, far from it.
As human beings we all go through a myriad of feelings daily, some struggle with them more than others, so what this is actually about is attitude and the ability to turn things around as an individual.
So this is what I did – I told myself that I could be worthwhile and I could make a difference today.
I had some breakfast, showered and then jumped on my computer and Googled volunteering in Vancouver. I found a website and then made a call to male called Jonathan from Planted, who I chatted with and explained that I was in town for a few weeks and I wanted volunteer or provide help to someone or organization that need it.
Jonathan advised me to go to the Carnegie Community Centre, which is run by the City of Vancouver and some volunteers on Main Street and ask there.
I did just that, I walked over ten blocks and ended up walking along West Hastings Street to Main Street, which basically passes two blocks of homeless people living on that street, as well as drug addicts, sex workers and other people with life problems. This area was not uncommon as I have been there a few times before in my travels to Vancouver.
I entered this three level building and spoke to Skip, the Security Guard and the female on reception and advised her that I wanted to provide help. I was then sent to the third floor to see Colleen, who was in charge of volunteers.
I briefly told her a little about me and that I wanted to help and in no time she said well, we can fast track you as a volunteer and started asking me details and putting information into her computer.
She then advised me that they needed a Server to serve the meals today, as they were short staffed and asked if could I start in ten minutes. With a genuine smile on my face, I said of course I can, even though I was not quite sure what I was in for.
I was taken down to the first level, where I was introduced to Jenny, the cashier/person in charge of this area and shown around the kitchen, given an apron and then instructions on what to do.
As they were doing maintenance on the kitchen, there was no hot lunch like they usually provide, instead for $2.25 or meal tickets, which they earn if they do some volunteering, they had a choice of a vegetarian or ham and cheese sandwich that came with a cup of minestrone soup with corn chips.
My job was to take the order and then plate up the food and also make sure the food remained stocked, as it was being made fresh by other volunteers in the kitchen.
Apart from this they can buy drinks, just soup, cookies, fruit and slices at cheap prices.
I served well over a hundred people and engaged with anyone that wanted to, telling them that a smile was free today. Most of these people apparently came nearly everyday and for some it may be the only meal they have for some time.
Amongst these people, one very elderly Chinese man I served, Vincent, who was obviously a regular, like to paint, as Jenny asked him how his art was going and told me that he was getting very good and that he had done a painting for her one time. I asked Vincent about this art and he joked about Australia, but left with a smile and a laugh.
I worked from 11.45a.m. until 4.00p.m. and then went back to Colleen’s office to collect my bag, as I had not been given a locker at that stage.
I thanked Colleen very much for the opportunity she had provided me with and told her that I thoroughly enjoyed my day, however she said, “No, it is I that thanks you for your help today”.
As I left Colleen’s office I looked over into another room and noticed Vincent painting along with some other people and went up and spoke with him again and had a look at what he was painting, which was a Bald Eagle on a banner they were making. I said I hoped to see him again soon and he then reach over and picked up a picture and said, “I did this for you”.
Right at this time – I felt worthwhile.
The reason I shared my story is to demonstrate that anyone can turn a negative feeling around if they really want to, it is up to YOU.