A while back, I volunteered at a food bank in Western Washington (state). It was set up in a building within a subsidized apartment housing complex and primarily served an immigrant community. (Nationality is unimportant, but, because some will ask, not Hispanic).
Anywhere from ten to twelve of us spent Saturday mornings putting together bags for distribution. Each bag contained identical items; donated by bakeries, stores, and individuals. A typical bag consisted of a small sack of rice, a few pastries, cans of soups and stews, bread—basic staples with a treat or two when we had them.
To distribute the items, we’d unlock a pass-through window that led to an open sidewalk and parking area. We did this every Saturday at noon, and every week a long line of folks were waiting for a bag of these staples. It was a warm feeling knowing that myriad groups, companies, small businesses, and individuals came together to help provide much needed nutrition for folks who, for the most part, had little other visible means of providing food for their families.
Every week though, without fail, there were some who would get their bag, hold up the line, rummage through their sack, toss the items they didn’t want on to the sidewalk, and demand (a term I do not use lightly, here) more of what they wanted and desired--frequently berating volunteers for giving them items they didn’t care for. They showed up each week and repeated their performance. Disheartening for those of us who witnessed it, and to those who took time and money to make the donations.
Now, to the point … I had a choice. I could be angry, I could be frustrated, or I could feel a sense of satisfaction that I was playing a small part in providing needed assistance for a worthwhile cause.
While it is rarely that black and white—believe me, it was quite frustrating at times—but finding the positive sure did help me sleep better. And it gave pause: What could we (food bank) be doing differently to maximize the experience? We had little say in the donations we received and were doing our best with what we had. We couldn’t barter, we couldn’t just start buying it all on our own. Communication was the best bridge. We explained that even though it might not be exactly what you want, it’s all we have and are doing our best to help you provide for your families. If you don’t like (or want) something we provide, please, please just hand it back, or better, give it to a neighbor who might put it to use.
At the end of the day, I propose that doing the right thing whether it is acknowledged or appreciated by everyone or not is the decent thing to do. You can’t control other people’s feelings or moods. But you have total control over how you react. And that’s something right there.
It's all about the adventure,