Life in the Village is pretty amazing. It has quickly become so much more than a loose band of moms helping moms. It has taken on a life and pulse of its own. I admit, I live and breathe the Village.
We recently held a giveaway event for the families we serve – the aim was to provide every child in the Village with a winter jacket and enough warm clothes to last until spring. The event involved a lot of planning, sorting, hauling, cleaning … it was a true labor of love working out the many details: How do we let all the families know about the event? How do we ensure we have enough clothing for everyone? How do we keep track of who still needs a coat at the end of the event? It was thoroughly exhausting both physically and mentally and I was so, so glad when the day finally arrived; I needed it to be happening so I could stop stressing over the planning phase.
Any volunteer who was there early that morning will tell you, my stress level didn’t decrease when the event began. It was palpable. The unexpected crush of families waiting to get in took me by surprise. I was so busy being busy that it took a while to recognize the beauty of what was happening all around me.
I watched as mothers and babies came in, some I knew from previous events or drops, some just as names in emails. Others were entirely new to me. In each case, on every mother’s face, I saw happiness, love, appreciation. I gave and received hugs. I found peace and joy in each interaction. I looked up to see one of our new volunteers, Michelle, walking around the room, happily holding an infant while his mother shopped. I knew that mom doesn’t speak English and Michelle, to my knowledge, doesn’t speak Spanish, but they both speak the language of motherhood and of love.
I looked in another direction and saw a volunteer, Elizabeth, strapping on an Ergo and settling a baby into the safety of the carrier, freeing her hands to help moms dig through donations and choose outfits. I myself spent several incredibly happy minutes holding a couple of different babies while their moms shopped. In the kids’ corner two pre-teen volunteers played with toddlers while families looked through the clothing. Within the boundaries of that room in the library, the spirit of the Village was alive and thriving.
Life in the Village isn’t always easy. It can be overwhelming. It can be sad. I often feel helpless to fill the needs I see all around me. And yet, life in the Village is also extremely rewarding — and it has changed the way I perceive the world around me.
At home, in my quiet little neighborhood, my door is always open. Children run in and out, I feed them dinner, do homework with them, put Band-Aids on them when they scrape a knee … and I wave happily to their mothers as they beckon my son in to play or eat with their families. My neighborhood is a small microcosm of what we strive to make the Village: a community where friendship and compassion and love truly make a difference.