A few months ago, I mentioned that I had a goal to do some outreach work. Through my church, I found out about a local DHR group home for girls, and went to take a tour. I knew immediately that this place was a place I wanted to be a part of. I have very, very little free time away from the boys though, so I worried if there would be anything for me to do that would work with my schedule. I prayed about it and just asked God to find something for me to do if this was where I was supposed to be.
I filled out all of the paperwork–background checks, child abuse and neglect forms, and even got fingerprinted (think adoption paperwork all over again)–and from the volunteer options listed, I checked off tutor and mentor. Once my background check cleared, I received a call from a woman named Arlene. She asked me what kind of volunteer work I was looking to do at Grace House.
I initially told her that I thought I would be a good tutor…..however, the only time I could be there was on Thursday mornings….when all of the girls were in school. My spirits were raised for a minute because she said they had one girl there who is homeschooled….but she already had enough tutors. I was beginning to feel discouraged, and I blurted out, “I just want to help. Is there anything at all that I can do on Thursday mornings? Is there anything you really need?”.
As it turns out, Arlene is their educational director. She said reluctantly that there is something she has been wanting to do, but just hasn’t had time–she wanted to start an in-house library for the girls. I immediately knew this was for me. I just knew it. If I had tried, I couldn’t have come up with anything I would have loved to do more than start a library there. That’s how I know it was God, because I never could have dreamed it up!
We set up a meeting and sat down together and she reiterated that this was to be my baby. I would handle it all, down to bulletin boards and setting up whatever kind of database I wanted. I made a list of supplies I would need and the next Thursday she had a bag waiting for me with everything I asked for. For the past 3 weeks, I have sorted, labeled and made due date cards for books. One Saturday, Arlene had 8 college volunteers there and I was able to leave directions for them to do some work and they were a huge help in the labeling and card-making process!! I think I have about one more week to go before the due date cards will be complete, and then comes the task of entering every book into a database.
I have a secret though. I really, really, really love arduous, busy work. And I love working on my own (seriously, the group projects on Project Runway make me break out in hives). I love walking into a room in chaos and slowly but surely (all by myself!!) making order out of it. And this is exactly what I’ve gotten to do. I wish I had gotten a before picture, but here is what it is looking like right now–
Isn’t it beautiful so far? Everything is labeled and sorted by category. Once I start the database, then I will move to alphabetical order by author’s last name.
The kicker is that Thursdays are my only me-day. My only guaranteed 4-hour chunk of no-kid time I have all week. And this is where I go. Every week, as Thursday draws closer, I start to think that I must be crazy, that I have too many other things to do. But I drive 20 minutes out there, and I settle down in the library with my ipod and I get to work. And a few hours later, I see the fruits of my labor.
That’s something you just don’t get with parenting. It is infinitely harder than any other work and it takes weeks, months, years to see progress sometimes. So this is rewarding and peaceful, and I leave feeling happy and fulfilled, not worried about all of the things I didn’t get done.
The funny thing is that I haven’t interacted with a single girl at this place since my orientation there. But I know that what I am doing will eventually affect each one of them. And that is totally worth it.