Serving is not what I do; it is who I am

The smell of fresh cut grass, dandelions’ milky white sap penetrating my nostrils, my sinuses enhanced, the muffled sound of K-9s barking in their shelter homes. This is what welcomed me as I pulled into the Johnson County Animal Shelter parking lot.

The days leading up to Serve Day was thrilling for me. When I think of Serve Day, I reflect on last year when our group from Greenwood Christian Church was sent to a trailer park to build a barn for this man. This was a very eye-opening experience to begin with because I saw how appreciative this struggling man was. At several different times throughout the morning, the man would offer us drinks and snacks. This man was a stranger at first and having been raised around the majority of my family most of my life, I did not talk to many strangers; maybe because I was taught not to speak to them. An unfortunate personal experience had made me believe that the public was nothing but selfish and rude. Having seen this man’s appreciation made me reevaluate my philosophies. I know there is still evil in this world, but doing something as little as help a struggling neighbor will make that evil significantly diminish.

Volunteering at the Johnson County Animal Shelter was new for me, and my muscles were tensing with excitement once we got to the location. I brought gloves that I always use for yard work along with my sister. Once we took our first steps onto the newly paved asphalt, my sister and I grasped the full scenery. As for my sister and I, we have always been attracted to country roads and wide open spaces around corn fields. It was safe to say that this was our idea of heaven, not to mention the yelping animals that persuaded me into adopting them all.

My sister and I introduced ourselves to the group there to volunteer. We saw a lot of new faces, and it was fun to meet them. One elderly couple spoke with us the entire time. More specifically, Kathy and Jerry Johnson took us under their wings for that morning. Slowly drifting to separate sides of the garden, I stuck with Jerry while my sister was goofing around with Kathy. The ladies were pulling weeds while the guys were landscaping the memorial garden. As Jerry and I laid piece by piece of landscaping fabric on the bed, we spoke about his family and their business. With my interest drawn about his business, I was intrigued. His business designs, manufactures, and installs live-fire ranges and training aids for all branches of the US military and Department of Defense. They serve in all areas of the globe, wherever there is a US Military installation or one of our allies.

With the morning coming to an end, Jerry and I finished laying the fabric. He had shoveled mulch over for me to spread out, and we were checking tasks off like rapid fire. I took a step back after we spread the last shovel of mulch on the fabric. Boy, did it look good. With the new-laid mulch and plants in fixed positions and weeds vanished, I kind of wanted to stick around all day and pet the animals. Unfortunately, my sister and I did not have the time. My family had a jam-packed schedule for the day.

I look back on this now, and I believe it was more impactful to me than it was the animal shelter. I have always enjoyed meeting new people and making friends. In addition, I reflected on past years’ experience for building the barn for that man. I wish I would have learned his name, but I did understand that he needed our help and so did the animal shelter. I realize more and more that it does not matter how busy my personal schedule is, there are people in the world that need my help and I may as well start with my community first. I mean my hobbies are meeting new people and building relationships. I may as well work for it.

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