Guilty pleasures come in all shapes and sizes. For me and my family, it looks something like this and comes from a great little restaurant a couple miles down the road. As I try to watch my budget and eat more home-cooked meals, sushi is enough to give me a little bit of guilt. Especially when I’m debating whether or not I can budget in an extra $50 – $100 per month to donate food to the homeless.
I was recently inspired by a friend to become more active in the community; to volunteer my time, not just offer up money as I can. So we visited the Cornerstone Rescue Mission, whose amazing staff and volunteers serve over 500 peoples’ physical and spiritual needs every single day. The godly woman who runs the kitchen volunteers explained that it’s not really a “drop in when you can” situation. To volunteer there means making a commitment. An individual, group, or family essentially adopts the responsibility of one particular meal on a regular basis. And they just so happened to have an opening. The groceries, planning, preparation, serving, and cleanup. I left, telling her I would have to think about it. That sounds reasonable, right? Think carefully before taking such a bold step as to commit time and money? But I was a little ashamed at my hesitation, given how freely I spend on other things.
So that evening’s decision came around. To sushi, or not to sushi? The deal I struck with myself was simple. I would continue to allow this expensive little habit, as long as I make a commitment to Cornerstone as well. So I emailed Maryam, and told her we’d be happy to commit, and would start in October.
Because my (willing but small) family isn’t big enough to tackle the entire process of feeding over 100 people, I reached out to some friends to help and provide backup in case of emergency or unavoidable conflict in our scheduled time. I really didn’t expect anybody to be as moved as I was to help Cornerstone. But almost every one of my friends responded enthusiastically that they’d love to be involved and help. I’m excited for our new project. And excited that I’ve got such generous and willing friends. Excited to start doing some nonprofit work that moves my soul. And yes, also excited that I get to keep eating sushi.
The trippy part of this story is that when my daughter picked up the sushi that night, a random stranger stepped in and covered our sushi-to-go ticket. I’m not sure if it’s coincidence, karma, God’s hand, or just a nice pay-it-forward moment. But I’ve never had a pay-it-forward experience, so this just seemed like too much to be coincidence. It was a reminder. There is no need for guilt. But there is a need to do as much as we can; every one of us. Volunteering isn’t supposed to really be about what’s convenient and affordable. It’s all about commitment and making a difference.
Thinking of volunteering or getting involved? Not sure what to do? Check out the Helpline Center. My advice is just do it. Make the time. Find the help. Get it on your calendar. The details will work themselves out.