As the Recovery arena is growing with people willing, able and wanting to help in the Recovery movement at local levels, I want to encourage those of us who have been in the Recovery arena to open our arms to welcome new people. I’ve said it often and I’ll say it again, addiction is a big fire and we need every kind of hose to put it out. I encourage those of us who’ve been in the Recovery arena awhile not to let preferences or inexperience with something different or new deter us from encouraging people to join the fight and, instead of trying to figure out if/how a potential helper should fit into the status quo mold, be willing to be open-minded to their vision of how they can help- and help them find a spot! Recovery needs helpers- all different kinds of helpers. Their approach may look different- if someone would have told me 10 years ago that I’d be designing Recovery items and own a business that supports the Recovery lifestyle, I wouldn’t have believed it. They may not know the language. They may seem like the least able person to make a difference but they have a desire to help be a part of the solution. We need them.
Seeing yet another hurricane making landfall brought back vivid memories of Houston’s Hurricane Harvey devastation in Texas, where I live. The need for help in every way was beyond enormous. After Harvey, a woman from my home church in Kansas contacted me and told me she felt sure she was supposed to do a diaper drive for a small town that had been ‘left out’- she didn’t know where that town was but she wanted to know if I could reach out to the people I knew and help her find it?! Even though I’m a Texas transplant, I’d lived in Texas long enough to know the answer to one of my elders from my home church who called with a vision asking for my help- “Yes, M’am”!
Call it divine intervention, we found the small town. My husband’s boss’s cousin lived in a small town that was in dire need of help. The town had originally been told there was no need to evacuate but as Hurricane Harvey closed in, bigger and farther reaching than expected, the entire town was told to evacuate, and had just 11 hours to do so. To put that into perspective, people basically had to choose the most important things that would fit in their car and leave the rest to sure destruction. Previous evacuations of the front line cities days before had consumed the resources normally available- there were no trailers left to rent at Home Depot in the nearest town, the nearest motel with a vacancy was 2 hours away.
We arrived with a big moving truck filled not only with diapers, but other supplies from mold-retardant to brooms and brushes to school supplies to hygiene kits to wash cloths and towels! (never underestimate the praying power of your spiritual elders). Our Kansas friend (and her husband), who’s vision and venture it was, came from Kansas and made the trip with us to the Texas town. The person we’d been in contact with from the town met us at the old fire station that was being used as the town’s central point and donation center. He texted the gal who’d set up a Facebook page for the community so she could let the townspeople know a truck of supplies had arrived. When we arrived at the location, there were some donated items scattered all over the floor, with no method to the madness. Having had experience in setting up make-shift donation centers (I’m from Kansas, the home of tornado alley), I asked if we could help them organize and got a huge YES. Just as I was thinking through a layout, a church van drove up. They had sack lunches and water to give away. And they had teens! I asked the social media gal to let people know about the sack lunches and water then, I asked the teens if they were ready to learn how to bust out a donation help center! The teens were amazing- I shared the basics and they devised a layout of boxes for clothing and created areas and groupings for various items. They were so happy to get to help and they got to see the difference their help made- within minutes of the social media post that supplies and food had arrived, people came. Seeing the people of that small town come together that day is still one of the most moving memories I have. There was no make-up, fancy clothes or social status- in fact, people were sweaty and dirty; the common denominator was that no one had a home left due to the average 5’ of water that flooded every home. It moved me to tears to see the people of the town hug each other, talk over a peanut butter sandwich made by hands they’d never know, share hope with one another. And, as I was taking a box of diapers to the ‘baby area’ that the teens had created, I witnessed two moms hugging each other, crying, as one said to the other, “I was on my last few diapers and had no idea what I was going to do. My work’s closed because it was flooded so, I don’t have a paycheck.”
I answered a call from a person with a vision. I got to be a part of that vision. Not my vision- someone else’s vision. I watched it unfold and offered my talents and abilities to help. Just because we aren’t the mastermind or it’s not the way we’ve always done it, doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. I learned a long time ago that someone has always gone before us in some way, shape or form- never underestimate the power of someone with experience and vision. Nor should we underestimate those with no experience but with willing hearts, minds and hands- because together, with our individual talents and abilities, we truly can make a difference. Look for the helpers- there are always helpers. Recovery needs all the helpers we can get with willing and open hearts, open minds and ready hands; and visionaries, out of the box thinkers and collaborators with new ideas, people willing to be on the front line or in the back, sharing their talents and abilities, and humbled veterans to help new helpers find a spot to thrive.