“It is those in the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially.”
-Saint Francis de Sales
Saint Francis de Sales has had more of an impact on the volunteer work I have done in my life than merely providing a quote that is applicable to my topic of service to others. All of the education I have received prior to college has been from catholic schools. The most predominant influence that Saint Francis de Sales had on me was during the entirety of my high school career. I went to Bishop Verot Catholic High School and before every class we would recite a prayer and at the end the teachers would say “Saint Francis de Sales,” and the class would respond “pray for us”. Saint Francis de Sales was a person whom my school looked up to in many different aspects; but, the place in which he was revered the most in by my school community was in the area of service leadership. During the course of every semester, Verot students were required to complete thirty hours of community service as a way to give back to the community and also as a way to imitate our school role model, Saint Francis. Many students, including myself, went above and beyond these hours because we saw the benefit that we were giving to the community, felt good helping others and found a community relief program that really sparked our interests. For those four years, my charity was F.I.S.H. of Sanibel, so that was my immediate thought when given the assignment to participate in volunteer work.
F.I.S.H., an acronym standing for “friends in service here”, of Sanibel is a charity organization that is located on the island on which I live. This charity is basically a supplier of food to the local food banks around Southwest Florida and my job is to sort, pack, and transport boxes of food to food banks in my region that are low on supplies. F.I.S.H. is just a collection organization because Sanibel does not require the need for one. For the most part, low income people who are in situations that require the use of food banks as a mean to survive do not pay the six dollar toll in order to enter the sole way onto the island. A majority of the people who live on Sanibel, including the ladies who work at F.I.S.H. are older people who retired and moved to the area, so the need for younger and able-bodied people to lift packages, load trucks and drive carloads of food to in need areas. During my high school career, my job was that whenever I received a call from the organization I would drive down the road to their small warehouse, load my mom’s truck up with food, and unload the car at food banks in about a two-hour radius of my home. My most recent job with F.I.S.H. was different than the others I had done in years prior.
During the course of this semester I was utilized to sort and package similar foods in the stock room, because apparently the soup kitchens in my county had a suitable amount of food and did not require as many deliveries to be made this summer. Though the non-perishable items were not being moved out of the building, the amount of donations coming in continued, so there was an overstock of goods that the older ladies were not able to sort without help. As I walked in the door and asked if they needed any help, I could see a sense of relief roll across the lady at the front desk’s face. I was taken back to the storage room and was overwhelmed with the amount of food that was in disarray all over, unknowingly I asked where the delivery was being taken and then was explained the situation that there were no deliveries that banks had requested in a bit. I saw this situation as kind of a let down at first, to be honest, but, of course, I agreed to continue my volunteer work at my favorite location and help sort the supply room. As I began sorting similar foods into boxes and onto shelves for easy deliveries in the future I realized that this situation was not a negative one in the slightest bit!
I recognized in the faces of the permanent volunteers that I was helping a tremendous amount by taking the strain it would cause an older woman to do this and doing it myself. Another realization that I had while organizing that room, was that each bag of rice that I placed onto a shelf was one that was not required to be used to feed in-need people in my area. It felt amazing thinking that the state of my region’s poorest areas was were increasing and not requiring as many deliveries from external sources than in the years prior. This gave me hope that the work that I had been doing in high school of delivering food may have led to more people my age helping to deliver food or that there was just not as many mouths to feed in these areas because people got out of the negative situations that they were in before. This last trip to F.I.S.H. opened my eyes more to the utility of service more than any other time before, and I can’t wait until I have my next opportunity to help people again because of that.