"At home" with volunteers

The volunteers at Treasures & Such offer energy, creativity, and enthusiasm to SBEC through their commitment to the store. Their absence these past months has been obvious; their presence has been missed.

What has life been like for them during these weeks of “staying home”?

One comment from a volunteer represents well the experience of all who responded to the question: “A blessing in disguise…This has taught me to relax, enjoy some quiet time and count my blessings.” Another notes that the change from always being busy to having to stay home enabled her to look inward. It was spoken of as a “time to deepen”. Many of the responses offered spoke of being changed by their increased time spent in prayer and reflection. I am “more focused on others”.

Some spoke of missing friends and family, of face-to-face contact, of the lack of choices, of being “part of community”.

This “quarantine” reality also provided time to do many things: Cleaning, reading, taking walks.

Planting/gardening was frequently noted. Among these volunteers, being part of nature, helping growth happen, being attentive to seeing the slow but sure growth of vegetables and flowers is obvious. One person spoke of her veggie plots and flower beds: “All seeds have sprouted – growing nicely.” And the flower beds are “needing a lot of attention. All [are] perennials and need thinning and sprucing up”. When else but during forced confinement is there time to watch a vegetable grow and notice that a flower bed needs thinning, and thin it? One person said they planted flowers and vegetables “to look at something beautiful”.

Learning was a repeated theme that emerged. Several spoke of learning how to “zoom” which helped somewhat address the longing to connect with family and friends, including one’s book club. Buying groceries on-line for pickup or delivery was the proud accomplishment of another. Perfecting one’s grilling skills was yet another’s. A very different type of learning – or perhaps better, awareness – was offered: “I’ve been a bit of a ‘sinful consumer’…With everyday items being unavailable at times I now will tear a Kleenex, paper towel, or disinfectant wipe in several pieces to make it last.”

What is perhaps most striking about their responses is their deep awareness of and concern for others. This should not be surprising. It speaks of who they are.

While confined to home many masks are being made for others. Someone is making prayer shawls. Each day one small Christmas stocking is created, to be donated somewhere in December. While commenting on the blessings and safety of their own situation during this pandemic, concern for others was repeatedly expressed. Among the comments made: “The news is painful when you see what others are going through”; “The downside has been watching people struggle with unemployment, food, and home schooling”; “Fear for the long-term effects all of this will have on hard-working citizens.”

In the midst of suffering, fear, uncertainty one can find reason to laugh -- and must. One person said for her the hardest part of the 6-foot distancing is staying 6-feet away from the refrigerator. Can you relate? Or how about this: “The absolutely most exciting thing I have done was to hand my husband a pair of scissors and have him cut my hair. I told him if it is sticking out, cut it off. He did a good job. I’m not sure if cutting my hair was more stressful for him or me. We have had a lot of laughs.”

In speaking of this time at home one volunteer said: “Actually the time has been good….Life is different, not hard. Things will be forever changed.” Another observes: “I m not sure that I want to return to the craziness of my pre-virus life. It has forced us to consider many of our values.”

Once again, the volunteers have given much to Saint Benedict Education Center. We long for the day when they can be on site again, with participants and staff, ministering to the needs of the day. In the meantime, thank you. Stay well.

Read this story and more on the SBEC web page.