This week’s blog post is by Deborah Heimel, REACH’s Director of Operations who coordinates our Holiday Gift Program.
Every year in the week leading up to the Holiday Gift party I drive to work with the same song on repeat. It begins softly “The skies don’t seem to be as dark as usual, the stars seem brighter than they’ve been before. Deep within I feel my soul is stirring, as though my hope has been restored.”
I love coordinating REACH’s holiday gift program. I love being witness to the kindness and generosity that is overflowing in smiles and laughter as well as physical gifts like sheets and jackets and Legos. I love it because you can see the hope. You can see it and you can feel it. But what is it we are hoping for?
We want to have hope that what we are doing will help. Maybe unconsciously we hope that buying the right Lego set will solve or even fix everything. REACH shares stories of this hope being made manifest – when the right scarf truly does restore someone’s hope in humanity. But what if it doesn’t? What do we hope in if the scarf isn’t enough or if it helps for the day but we know that it doesn’t help forever? Can we dare to hope in the bigger things – like people being safe or free from hunger?
This is the season of hope. We hope the kindness and generosity we see in December will last longer than one day; we hope the kind acts we do will truly make things better for someone else; we hope that if we are kind to another, then kindness will be shown to us as well.
Do we know that we are just taking one step on a lifetime journey? Are we aware that these acts are part of the larger world where we are all connected and that what we are doing is making Hope a verb? We are turning hope into action. Do we dare to hope that we can be this kind and generous to each other every day of the year? We respect someone’s individual wishes at this time of year and choose blue pajamas as requested over the red ones that we might prefer, but how does that hope translate to action in March or July? Are those the months when we hope that something other than holiday gifts will lead to a better future for someone? Do we then hope in a world free of violence, for a future where individual choices are respected and understood in the context of each unique situation and life experience? My experience is that hope is not a linear emotion, but we can better handle the highs and lows when we are part of a community that can support us and remind us of what we are working for. Through community, might our hope be restored?
We are on this journey. And we invite you to join us on it not just in December but throughout the year.