My kind of people, too!
Every once in a while, I’m reminded of what a truly wonderful place this is that I get to live in. I’ve mentioned before that it’s a university town, and that the university’s motto is Ut Prosim – “That I May Serve”. It’s no joke. The spirit of service is very much a part of the culture at the university and it spills over into the community in many ways.
Just as a for instance, every Spring there is this thing called The Big Event. It’s a student-run community service effort that is now the second largest event of its kind in the country. Thousands of students, faculty and staff go out into the communities around here and undertake hundreds of community service projects – everything from picking up litter; clearing trash, old furniture, appliances and tires thrown into the streams and waterways (sorry, but this is Appalachia and folks still do that); to cleaning up or planting gardens for elderly widows; or, one of my favorites a few years ago, helping a local landscape company put in the trees and shrubbery for the new elementary school up the road from me.
It makes your heart swell to see these groups of young people smiling and digging in all over the town on that day (this year it’s April 8). Maybe I should put my name on their list for some big mulching that needs doing…….hmm.
During the holidays, there is a massive “Christmas Store” that is all new merchandise donated by businesses and individuals that provides a welcoming place for people of limited means to shop for their families and children for Christmas. There are food banks operating year round, and the Women’s Resource Center provides all manner of support for women who are struggling to support themselves and their families – job counseling and referrals, wardrobe assistance, food and supplies for their families’ everyday needs.
People heartily support the local YMCA and its Thrift Store, myself included, because so many people in the area – and students make up a significant percentage of them – rely on it as a place to go for training, classes in practical and some recreational skills and affordable items needed for their homes and families.
The university provides a full complement of career guidance and support for students, including a facility they call “Career Outfitters” to which I have donated an entire walk-in closet of My Darling Husband’s suits, sport coats, dress shirts, ties, belts – you name it. I was stunned the last time I was there when I got a look at the vast inventory they have for students to choose from.
Anyway, the other day I was in line at the Starbucks drive-through – there are five Starbucks in the area, two with drive-throughs, thank God – and, not for the first time, pulled up to the window to learn that the person in front of me had paid for my latte. And, you know what? It inspires me to do the same on occasion. Very literally paying it forward.
When you and your friends, neighbors and greater community truly show their concern for and support of their fellow man, woman, child, it can help you forget how harsh the world has become.
Have a wonderful weekend and maybe buy a cup of coffee for the stranger next to you!