Take a step to­ward healing by help­ing the most needy

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - OPINIONS -

EDI­TOR, TIMES-DIS­PATCH:

I sup­port peace­ful pro­test­ers. I would like to sug­gest an actionable idea that might be helpful to­ward healing. A few months ago, my fam­ily be­gan vol­un­teer­ing at Shep­herd’s

Way Re­lief Cen­ter, a lo­cal non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion whose mission is to “elim­i­nate hunger in the Rich­mond ... area by pro­vid­ing per­sons in need with food, pro­mote, ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties and to in­still hope.” We have re­turned weekly to help pre­pare and serve meals, hand out toi­letries and clean. In that short time, I have had the plea­sure of meet­ing and greet­ing guests. Fur­ther, work­ing with the core vol­un­teer staff who tend to the daily needs of the guests has been inspiring. I was sur­prised to hear that a few of these staff mem­bers once were guests who now are “pay­ing it for­ward.” I also have worked closely with a po­lice of­fi­cer who serves cof­fee to the guests. On rare oc­ca­sion, she will step in to calm a po­ten­tially tense sit­u­a­tion. It’s been a short time for me, but I do sin­cerely feel these heroes are be­com­ing friends — friends I never would have had if I hadn’t taken time to be of ser­vice. Per­haps, if we had more com­mu­nity in­ter­ac­tion like this in the need­i­est com­mu­ni­ties, we could play a small part in healing our sins. The guests and staff reg­u­larly thank me. Truth be told, I should pay them for let­ting me help.

The broader point is go out, vol­un­teer, meet and get to know some­one need­ier than you. You will learn some­thing. I know they will ap­pre­ci­ate it. Most im­por­tantly, it’s not a one-time event — it’s a life­time com­mit­ment.

RAFAEL ASTRUC.

RICH­MOND.

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