Friday, September 16, 2005

Christmas is coming.

I was thinking about plans for Christmas today. No idea why (oh yes, GG mentioned it last night) but I can’t believe it’s come round so quickly.

Last year, I decided to do something constructive with my time, so I volunteered to help out at Crisis Open Christmas, a UK charity that provides shelter and stuff for the homeless right the way through the holiday. With more than a little trepidation, I ended up doing a couple of 12 hour shifts on the 27th and 29th, ending at around 11pm, and got up to all sorts of fun – from security at the front gate to helping out in the entertainment tent. Other people were cooking, cutting hair, checking teeth… quite amazing the lengths that some of the volunteers went to.

It was an eye-opening, and chastening, experience and nothing at all like I expected it to be. There was no “us and them” – everyone mingled and chatted, and there was a sense of real camaraderie. The people staying in the shelter were grateful for the help, but didn’t feel in any way inferior because they were homeless and down on their luck. Or, for that matter, obligated to like us... in fact, it felt like we had to prove we were worthy to be there ourselves, in some way. And some of the stories were amazing, and thought provoking. Life can be turned on its head so easily. The series of events that clearly lead some of these guys to destitution, alcoholism, drugs and prostitution you could see happening, potentially, to absolutely anyone. And it really did feel a bit too close to home in some ways, remembering back not all that long ago, and what might - just might - have become the downward spiral that was the beginning of the end for so many of the people I was speaking to.

It really had a profound effect on me last year, and I’ll be putting my name down again. I don’t do nearly enough, most of the time, but this much I can do.

6 comments:

Networkchic said...

It takes a lot to volunteer. So many people 'want' to help, so few actually do. I can't belive your talking about Christmas already...where does the time go?

WDKY said...

I know - I'll be planning my holiday for next summer soon!!!

As for volunteering, I guess it can be a bit intimidating. Mind you, judging by the horror stories I hear about Christmas, you'd think they'd be turning be turning people away over at CoC...

Caterpillar said...

I know I'm commenting very late for this post (I just started from the beginning). I love this story, love love love it! I volunteer, but am usually in the money-raising aspect of it. And I know what you mean about almost wanting to be accepted by the people who you are helping. The few times I've actually been around the poorer and working poor, it's me who feels out of place etc., and I'm trying to make them believe that I am a good person! I like so much that you are doing this, and that it affected you!

WDKY said...

Thank you - I really appreciate your comment. And thanks for reading so much!

check said...

jus checkin out some old posts...from the beginning..gettin to kno the man behind wdky..hehehe cos u intrigue me a bit too..youre quite a good guy..that was a nice thing to do..and hey i was wonderin...why blur out ur pic on the newer posts?? the older ones hav a normal one..

WDKY said...

Fancy seeing you here, Check... it was fun too, though. I'm going to do it again this year.