Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Giving Thanks: Gabriel Zaldivar and Columbia Community Care

Columbia Community Care continues to serve our neighbors who are struggling due to the pandemic. The demand for food assistance remains high. Community members donate food and personal care items, give funds, or shop from the group’s Amazon list. Volunteers stock and operate two pantry centers, “shop” and deliver for families, run food giveaway sites five days a week in the crushing heat.

The energy with which this initiative began is still strong. Community support, however, has shown signs of waning. We are all so tired of this. We want to go back to the way our lives used to be. It is hard to sustain the dedication for an effort like this over the long haul. 

We are used to responding in a crisis. It’s a finite experience. We see the need, we give the gift, and then it’s over.

The need that Columbia Community Care is addressing is far from over. The Coronavirus is far from over. And the underlying issues that place so many in Howard County right at the very edge of being able to survive have not even begun to be addressed. Right now there is no end in sight.

People who have been giving faithfully may now worry their discretionary income may not be sufficient over the long haul. Those who have been volunteering in person may have gone back to work. Over time initiatives like this often experience a falling away of support. People lose hope that their small contribution is making a difference. The overwhelming need that once spurred them to help now makes them want to withdraw, to turn away.

Human beings become exhausted and yet the need is ongoing. 

I’m sharing a post today from Gabriel Zaldivar, a volunteer with Columbia Community Care. His words call us to think in a different way. He helps us see those to whom we are giving more clearly. He shows us that we have good reason to offer them thanks.

I want to take this opportunity and thank the people standing in line at our sites.

They try to help us set up when they are allowed because they appreciate that we are there for them in time of need.

They make masks for all of the volunteers. It’s the 5th regular at LEMS to hand me freshly sown masks in a bag to ensure we are protected as we help them.

They carry smiles when it’s their turn.

They say thank you and gracias as they leave. 

They bring extra things from their houses that others might benefit from.

Don’t underestimate how hard it is for some people to ask for help and always be gracious when they receive it.

I look forward to seeing them again soon but I can’t wait for them and others to be in better times ahead.

Mr. Zaldivar reminds us that it is in giving that we receive. Yes, it is hard work, yes, it feels unending, but this work is also building relationships of trust that change us for the good as well.

When I asked Mr. Zaldivar if I might share his post on the blog, he responded:

If it shines light on all the hard work of the founders, coordinators, volunteers and the community as a whole has done then I am all for it. 

I’m just a small piece of this wonderful organization and there’s a lot of voices that can tell its story.

Thank you for wanting to share.

You can learn more about Columbia Community Care at their website. There’s a lot of valuable information on their Facebook group page, as well. Take a look if you haven’t already. Or revisit if you haven’t stopped by in a while. Find a way to be a small piece of something wonderful in our community.  

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