The biggest misconception I hear about is people needing our services are either entitled or personally did something to put themselves in a position of need. This could not be farther from the truth. In fact, a large number of the Center’s clients are our most consistent volunteers. Because they cannot afford to make a donation to us, volunteering is their way of giving back.
Michael has been volunteering at the Center for the past 6 months. Michael was in the Air Force for 10 years spending a majority of the time stationed in Japan. Before finishing up his military service, Michael was relocated to Offutt. Michael quickly grew fond of Nebraska as it seemed so much quieter than his native New York. Michael came to the Center to receive a pantry and by the end of his visit, he was asking how he could give back. We immediately put Michael to work as we oftentimes lack muscle to complete various jobs. Michael spends over 25 hours a week volunteering. He takes pride in his job so much so that he irons his jeans each morning before work and referring to staff members as “Boss.”
Michael has never asked for anything. A couple of months ago we even had a scare with Michael suffering a seizure at the Center. After the ambulance arrived, we found out that Michael was not taking his medication because he could not afford it. Fortunately, we were able to help Michael figure out what benefits he was entitled to as a veteran.
Last night I received a telephone call from Michael. Michael continued on to say that his father had called him to let him know that his mother was gravely ill. After Michael told me about his ailing mother, there was a really long pause and I could hear muffled crying. I had absolutely no idea what to say so I did not say anything. About a minute later, Michael said, “Boss, I don’t know how to ask you this but I was wondering if I could possibly borrow some money so I could see my mom one last time. I can’t find a job so I don’t have any money and don’t know where else to turn.” This was an easy decision.
Michael will leave for New York on Tuesday. I just left his friend’s house (Michael sleeps on the couch). Michael kept on saying thank you and how he appreciates all we do for him. After awhile, I told him that he did not need to thank us. After all, Michael has been a tremendous asset to the Center.