The recent devastating hurricanes have generated many stories of strangers coming together to aid those jeopardized by these ferocious weather systems. Although the recovery effort may be organized by relief organizations, it is nevertheless also dependent on the goodwill of volunteers who, despite their own hardships, come forward to the aid of strangers.
These selfless and heroic efforts remind me that we would be hard-pressed to address the needs of the children, youth, and families we serve if not for the legion of volunteers dedicated to working along with our staff to fulfill our mission to help those we serve heal, grow, and thrive.
As these natural disasters unfolded over the last couple of weeks, it coincided with the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. On that tragic day among the thousands who perished were an extraordinary couple, Lynn and David Angell, who were great supporters of Hillsides. Lynn, in particular, was an enthusiastic and ardent volunteer who was the driving force behind the creation of the library and the many enhancement services associated with it. She collected books, took over part of the auditorium for a reading center, organized other volunteers to read and tutor our residents, and insisted on a permanent home for the library in the Children’s Resource Center. Lynn serves as the great example of what one volunteer with a dream can achieve. Today a foundation created in their name continues to honor their lifetime contribution with ongoing support for the library programs and many other initiatives at Hillsides.
Although I never met Lynn or David, each time I get to New York City I make my way to the 9/11 Memorial to find their names, say a prayer, and hope we continue to know the blessing of many selfless and committed volunteers.
The challenges brought on by such powerful and extensive natural disasters remind us of how reliant we are on the kindness of strangers. It summons our best instincts to offer assistance regardless of sacrifice, and builds up the human spirit to realize a dream otherwise threatened by tragedy. Never underestimate the difference you could make as a volunteer for the many we serve.
For information on volunteer opportunities at Hillsides, please visit our volunteer web page or contact Laura Kelso, our community resources director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-254-2274, ext. 1251.