Everyone here on project has been gearing up for a mammoth weekend of volunteering, with people pouring in from all over the state. We’ve been scouring Berthold for extra accommodation, schmoozing with pizza companies to be able to feed the masses without breaking the bank and putting together precision plans for transport and site logistics to make sure Saturday goes without a hitch. Needless to say things have been a little anxious in the office as we prepared to run 160 volunteers!
Or 105, as it turns out. The office heaves a collective sigh – part relief that resources won’t be quite as stretched and the day won’t have to be run with such military precision, part disappointment that it’s not going to be as huge a blast through Minot’s flood damaged homes we thought it was. The problem is this: one jolly and motivated person found out about All Hands. “Gee, that looks great,” they thought to themselves. Usually this person would book a ticket and show up at the project willing to get stuck in and start gutting houses. Here, being so out-of-the-way and largely unreported by the media, those people thought, “wait a minute, I should get all my friends to come too. What a great cause! And in my neighbourhood too. I should be able to get a ton of people out to help.”
Not so my friend. Unfortunately the desire to help people you don’t know does not seem to be universal. In some people it pulls them so strongly they quit jobs, leave friends, spend hundreds of dollars on plane tickets and live out of rucksacks on the floor for months. For others it drives hands into pockets, donating money so that people who have the freedom to be able to drop everything can do so, supported with food, accommodation and logistics from organizations like All Hands. Still others merely think to themselves that being stuck by a natural disaster doesn’t look much fun, and then go about their day. Or they don’t think at all.
So, the jolly, motivated soul who called me with promises of a hundred volunteers, calls back in a small voice and apologies for only being able to bring 20. And so it goes in this line of work; all the most wonderful people I know don’t even think of themselves as good people because they always think of the other things they could have done. To all my wonderful friends who give what they have for the sake of giving it, thank you. And to all the people who’ve tried to bring big groups to volunteer and ended up bringing smaller ones, think how much less we’d have done if you’d have brought no one. Thank you too.