Sunday, June 19, 2011

SOS Richelieu

For those of you living outside of Quebec, you may not be aware of some flooding that happened this spring in the region of St-Jean sur Richelieu. St-Jean is only about 30 minutes from Montreal. This spring there was heavy rain in the region and flooding resulted. Here's a link to a news article about it. And here are some pictures I found online of the flooding. This all happened about 6 weeks ago.

Yesterday I went with a small group of about 20 people from work, as well as several other groups of volunteers from other companies, and we spent the day in this community to help the victims of this flooding get a little order back in their lives.

After my trips to Panama (2005, 2007) and Belize (2009) I remember feeling that it didn't really matter what we did to help, what was more important to these people was that we took the time to be there. The work we did yesterday was no exception. Yes, we did work. We emptied some cabanas of furniture, cleared debris from grass, moved rotted wood and things to the side of the road and hauled what seemed like a million bags of sand curbside for pick-up. I found out what sludge really is. It's smelly. It's slimy. It's gross.

This was, I believe, the third weekend where volunteers came from Montreal (or wherever) to help out the people of St-Jean sur Richelieu. The last couple of weekends were so successful that this weekend they only needed volunteers for Saturday, and actually had to cancel the work plans for the Sunday (today) because there just wasn't enough outside work. Apparently the volunteers have been working hard. Good to hear!

At the end of the day, my work colleagues and I were sitting down to a BBQ when the woman who we'd helped out that morning came to say a few words of thanks. She has a little restaurant on the edge of the river, with a pool, lawn, beach volleyball court, all set right at the end of the road, in a really lovely, quiet and probably normally a beautiful location. Six weeks after the flooding, the river is still 4 feet above it's usual level, her restaurant has basically been gutted from hip level down. Anyway, she came to thank us. She said that we'd probably put her ahead by about 10 days to 2 weeks. She has kids and knows how busy they are, so realised how busy our own lives were and was so thankful that we'd actually taken the time to come and help a complete stranger. We didn't know her, her business, the area, nothing. And that's when I remembered Panama and Belize. Every time we did anything, either at Hogar Dr. Eno, the Seniors Home, at the school and now, here in St-Jean sur Richelieu people really are thankful and happy that you're there.

So here's a challenge I issue to anybody who has never done any kind of volunteering before. You can do it. Do not be intimidated by what you can't do. If you can serve a bowl of soup, you can volunteer. If you can give somebody a blanket, you can volunteer. If you can drag a rake, hold a paintbrush, lift a sandbag, talk to somebody, etc., you CAN volunteer. Now go and do it. Fill up your pot of good karma, or reserve your place in heaven - whatever religion you believe or don't believe, you'll see that giving back for an hour or a day or a week will make you feel good in a new way and it will change you forever. I promise.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Scratch that

Just finished reading Into Thin Air and have pretty much decided to scratch "Everest Base Camp" off my Life List.

Many reasons, some probably a little silly but in all honesty, I just don't think it's really for me. I'm quite sure I can think of something else extraordinary to do or someplace wonderful to explore or ... whatever.

Base Camp not for me. End of story.