Thursday, April 12, 2007

Trying to "show up"--volunteerism and Pacific Pride

The last few years of my life have been spent learning that God wants me to "show up." I want our family to do God's work and to love with actions, not just words.

You don't have to look too hard to find the brokenness in your own community. I dropped off some papers at the courthouse several weeks ago and in my fifteen minutes there I encountered a guy in his early 20's: unemployed and had to pay child support for his little girl, an attorney picking up paperwork for three clients getting divorces, and a mentally insane woman walking down the sidewalk repeating the same few sentences over and over, complete with several four letter words.

I believe God wants us to help those around us, in our community, in addition to the needy all over the world. I think it's pretty sad that we don't do ANYTHING in Santa Maria, the town God has us living in--Kevin doesn't work here, we don't go to church here, we don't know anyone here (save the Gibsons, but I don't think they need our help. :) )

For awhile now I've been wanting to help AIDS patients. Obviously my capacity to help is limited by having four kids but I AM home all day; I figure I could make a meal or drop some groceries by--just a little something to help, that my kids could help with too. Interestingly, there is apparently only one organization (that I could find) offering assistance to those suffering with AIDS in our community, Pacific Pride. (For those who don't know, Pacific Pride is a gay/lesbian organization. The homosexual community is extremely active in the fight against AIDS.)

First off, I think it's shameful that the Christian community as a whole has not reached out more to help those afflicted with this disease. Second, I was unsure about volunteering with Pacific Pride. But I thought about it and decided that this organization's work with AIDS patients (operating a food pantry and delivering groceries to them, for example) is GOD'S work. SO I called Pacific Pride and left a dorky message on some guy's voice mail about what I wanted to do.

Well they never called back! You know you must be a real loser when you get rejected from volunteering! :) I did find an organization (not homosexual, but secular) in SLO County that takes volunteers, and I'll request to just help in Nipomo/Five Cities, but I'm bummed it's not Santa Maria, and I haven't contacted them yet. Truth be told I think it can be a blessing to volunteer with a non-religious organization. (Which is probably my only option anyhow since this is not a cause typically championed by Christians.) I think we should be willing to work side by side with people of other religions, ideologies, sexual orientations, whatever, to do the work of Jesus. A good picture of being "salt and light." I don't want to run from things that get into gray areas or that aren't all neat and tidy.

Anyhow I'm hoping something works out with this SLO County place. I am a TERRIBLE flake and procrastinator (and really need to get on the ball with this) but I want to be purposeful in how I live my life and how our family loves others. I'll post something more about this once something materializes!


Jeannett Gibson said...

We've talked about this in detail already, so I won't comment much except to say that I hope you do look into other ways to get involved in Santa Maria. It may not be AIDS patients specifically, and I know that's kind of your "cause"...but it will not only be easier for you (with four kids) but also get you involved in the community you live in. How about the "regular" food pantry?

Brianna Heldt said...

Jeannett do you know offhand of any places that could use this type of volunteering (aka stuff I can do out of my house, or just drop off etc.)? Part of my desire to help with AIDS specifically stems from the fact that Yosef and Biniam's birth mother is HIV-positive. But I am totally open to doing other stuff too. Heck, if push comes to shove maybe I'll just stock YOUR pantry! :)

Kristen Borland said...

i think this is great, brianna. it is so sad (and i'm to blame too) how stand-offish we christians can be about certain things like AIDS. so much more can be done, in so many areas. and i truly hope pacific pride calls you back. i'm darn proud of you for calling them and for being willing to work along side people with differenting opinions than you. you go, girl. you are truly inspiring!

(on a side note, totally unrelated, the word verification this time around is "pigpx." that just makes me laugh.:) )

Allison Brown said...

It's not at all creepy that you found my blog off of Lara's. Thanks for leaving a note. I enjoyed reading your blogs and am very inspired by what you have to say. I can't believe that even with four children you still have some free time. You give me hope!
I hope that you do find a way to get involved and spread God's love.

americanalum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
americanalum said...

An Air Force buddy of mine was stationed in Ethiopia for quite a while and he did a lot of research and active community work that dealt with HIV/AIDS education and prevention. I went out to dinner with him last night and we got to talking about Ethiopia and HIV/AIDS in great detail. He was saying that when he was in the country, he had to teach so many people that it is not okay to reuse condoms. These people were trying to do the right thing, but did not realize that condoms cannot be washed and reused. They were spreading the disease that way in so many cases. Some of them knew that this should not be done, but felt like it was better than nothing being that they did not have the resources to get more condoms. Others simply had no idea that this practice is unacceptable. It is so sad. However, he had some positive stories too so it was not all gloom and doom.

As much as it would be tough to live in Ethiopia, I would welcome the chance to spend a few months there if the Army presents me with that opportunity. It would be wonderful to have that experience, especially since I plan to adopt from Ethiopia in the future.

Good luck in finding the right charity to volunteer with. I would suggest trying to contact Pacific Pride again. Oftentimes charities have very limited resources and staff members can even be volunteers with full-time jobs, so give them time. They may still contact you. If not, try them again. I have dealt with the same thing with two local HIV/AIDS charities here in Las Vegas. They are so busy and their resources are stretched thin. Again, good luck and God Bless!


Lara said...

What a great idea. You've inspired me. I'm going to try to find something here in Florida to do. Not only would I be serving the Lord and the people he loves, but I can't think of a better way to get over being sad, depressed and lonley so far away from all my friends. (I wish I would move back too!)

Lara said...

Any luck finding a way to serve? I'm not having much. My dad suggested taking Caedra to an assissted living area to just hang out with the elderly and brighten their days. I'm looking into that.
Keep me updated. I could use some good ideas.

Brianna Heldt said...

Lara I haven't pursued this any further--the kids and I have all been sick w/ colds. Finding volunteer work seems to be harder than you would think! I know there have got to be so many needs out there but yeah it's not always easy to track them down!

That is a GREAT idea, about the assissted living!! So many elderly are probably lonely and I'm sure they rarely get to see children. Keep me posted on if you do this or not!


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