From Community Service: Giving Thanks, Globally and Locally
It is especially hard to know where to start, isn't it? I thought that yesterday as I sorted through the mail, one pile for immediate bill paying, the other for looking at "later." The second pile was huge: AMFAR, OXFAM, The Heifer Project, Seva Gifts of Service, Kiva Microfinace Loans, March of Dimes, WUMB, Casa Nueva Vida, Home for Little Wanderers—oh, there was more! These were mixed in with requests from the Homeless Veterans for donations of unwanted goods and Kars for Kids. So much paper and so much assistance needed, all from useful, hardworking organizations requesting my help. You get them too, and often respond with a "yes."
Linda Hurley and I get calls every day from organizations that wish to partner with Nobles in an effort to make a critical difference. Some are far away, others strive to ease suffering very close to our surrounding walls in Dedham. All deserve our attention, resources, time and energy. But we cannot respond with a "yes" to every call. Like looking for a college, families and students have to find the right "fit"; the one that uses our real skills and time options or whose mission calls to our passions. Our department does, too.
In the last few years, the Service Department has attempted to mine those kinds of passions in the student body to inform our choices about which partnerships to pursue. In tandem with student clubs and organizations, we have reached out to many worthy agencies nearby to support their work and to further their hopes of making a difference. Thanksgiving time is unique here, since we have been supporting two wonderful agencies for more than a decade. We have been helping the Multicultural Student Association (MSA) and the Middle School, both of which have sustained a caring relationship with the Single Parent Family Outreach Center (www.singleparentfamilyoutreach.org). We help coordinate the delivery of their autumn's work. MSA will be buying close to 100 turkeys for these families, and the Middle School will provide both money and holiday pies to the Center. The collection of materials, festive preparations of the food itself, and the collective feeling of working together toward a collaborative local offering makes all of us feel both effective and satisfied.
Back to the mail. This year I have decided to give both globally and locally. I am choosing one type of each charity for Thanksgiving, maybe because I feel blessed indeed to have the resources to do so. I use the Nobles philosophy of service to make my choice: What do I really care about? What need can I help (in my small way) although I cannot respond to everything? I pull the envelope from Romanian Children's Relief out, and write a check to support a special needs child in his or her placement center in Nasaud. And I grab the Home for Little Wanderers brochure for my local contribution. A child there, a child here.
Nobles has taught me a great deal about what is going on right here in my community that deserves attention. Your sons and daughters are giving of their energy and resources daily to spend time and focus on the needs of their fellow citizens both here and abroad. We all have a lot to be thankful for in these aspirations and in the children who seek to fulfill them.
Sandi MacQuinn and Linda Hurley