Love your neighbor.

How To Post Additional Projects For Same Neighbor

03-24-2020

A frequently asked question we get is "how do I post additional projects for a neighbor seeking help, especially when I know I can't meet that need?"

We often have the opportunity to post additional projects for the person we're helping that we discover during the phone call or when we're helping them. Especially as we respond to COVID-19 projects by being proactive in using pre-existing projects as points of connection to our neighbors even if we can't help them with what they're currently requesting help for. If you happen to see someone in your area that needs a new roof, know you're not going to meet that need, but you just want to call; you can call them, talk to them, and then create a new project for that "Prayer/Encouragement" project or anything else they may request. You can then decide whether that was a one-time or an ongoing call. No obligation to take anything. 


We Need Data! This action helps us keep track of what's happening through the NL website and what our volunteers are learning at this time. The more information you can help us gather through these phone calls, the more we're able to respond in a bigger way. The social service world is looking for real-time data and these phone calls allow us to gather information proactively rather than reactively.


This video walks you through how you can create new projects with what you learned about the original project and any additional needs you discovered from the call or project. If it's just additional information for the same project, then you can just update the project description. If it's a new need, create it, even if your new project was just a simple "check-in phone call" to encourage someone. 


We appreciate your partnership and support during this time. 


Message Jeff Shatto at Jeff@nlfw.org if you have any questions on how this works. 

Reflections With Robert - Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times - March 23, 2020

03-22-2020

I'll admit it- I'm a sucker for ancient quotes. Whenever I find myself in trying times or unfamiliar territory, I inevitably turn to the ancients for wisdom. And why not? They were more than a little experienced with navigating dire circumstances. You know, the stuff that makes our current run on toilet paper and hand sanitizer look like child's play. I'm talking war, blood feuds, pestilence, disease, famine, empirical takeovers, slavery, etc. Looking through the lens of their lives helps me put my own troubles into perspective and to be grateful for the life we have in the 21st century. 

The following are five relevant quotes from the ancients with some thoughts on how to apply each one to our current situation dealing with COVID-19. As we struggle to find our way through this pandemic predicament, we can rest in the knowledge that the human race has seen it all before and consistently overcome the odds in triumph.


"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."  - Aesop

When we think of Aesop, our minds typically default to a heated race between a tortoise and a hare. However, if you pore through the Greek fabulist's 600 written works, you'll find volume after volume of inspiring wisdom that's still relevant in our current day and age.

The mere fact that Aesop, who lived in Greece more than 2500 years ago, would even mention kindness is an anomaly in itself. To put it into perspective, Aesop was born at the tail-end of two separate twenty-year wars and lived through two other major wars during his lifetime. The first was ten years in length and the second far outlasted him at three hundred years. You remember the Trojan War, right? Well, that war (between Greece and Troy) took ten years from start to finish and was waged over a woman. That's basically how peopled rolled back then. 

No matter what era you live in, the truth is that kindness is shocking and, if we're being honest, unnatural. It goes against our selfish human nature of looking out for ourselves first and foremost. Therefore, it takes true discipline to actually be kind when it's not even required or expected of you. That's probably why we're drawn to stories of kindness on social media and on the news. No matter how often we see them, kindness is shocking and always a breath of fresh air.

However, as anyone who has dabbled in the fine art of kindness knows, once you go kind, you never rewind. Kindness inevitably creates ripples that can be felt for hours, days, weeks, and years beyond the initial act itself.

Struggling with ways to be kind to your neighbor in confusing times like these? We've already given you five tips to try, so check them out and implement them today.


"Gratitude is not just the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others."  - Marcus Cicero

Cicero was the greatest orator of his era and a supremely talented wordsmith. Based on one of his most famous quotes - "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need" - I think he would have fared just fine in a quarantine like ours.

His leading quote above is not only thought-provoking but also has the power to completely and utterly transform your life. Gratitude, or "the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness," is a lifestyle choice that opens doors and windows wide; it creates fertile deltas at every river's end. Gratitude is the salt and pepper to your life's steak. Sure, you can eat it plain?but once you add a sprinkling of seasoning, you'll realize how bland life was without it.

One of the best ways to incorporate gratitude into your life is to keep a Gratitude Journal during these days and weeks of uncertainty. Start with an empty page and write all of the things you're thankful for that come to mind. Start with a few per day or go all out. Go ahead, try it. I know you're thinking how hard it will be, but once you get going it will be very hard to stop. Begin with the easy things: your family, house, and job; then move on to the things you rarely even think about: hot water, electricity, silverware, your microwave. With each new thing you list, you'll think of one or two others, which leads to even more. Once you write each one down, dwell on it for a heartbeat. Consider what life would look like if you didn't have it anymore. 

Or, if you're not a journaller, spend a few minutes running through the same process in your mind. My suggestion is to begin or end each day with this Gratitude Exercise. Not only will it usher in a life of thankfulness, but it will transport your mind to a grateful, peaceful place when you need it most- at the beginning and/or ending of each day. Doing so will bring calmness, lessen anxiety, make you a more giving individual, and transform you into a person of peace.


"The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts."  - Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius is arguably the most famous of the Stoic philosophers. Not only that, but he was the most beloved emperor of Rome, which was the most powerful empire of the ancient world. Aside from running a massive empire, Marcus Aurelius suffered from a lifelong chronic illness that made life very difficult and painful. The surprising thing is that he lived each day in peace and tranquility, refusing to complain about a situation that was unique to himself. How did he do it? By understanding that certain facts of life were simply out of his control. Instead, he chose to be grateful for what he did have and to focus on what was in his control, including his thoughts, how he viewed others, and how he reacted in and to difficult situations.

So how do we apply this methodology to our current lives? It starts by admitting a few concrete facts. The first is that COVID-19 has leveled the playing field. No amount of money, or lack thereof, will give you a leg up on the threat it poses. Rich and poor are all at risk, as are the young and old. The second is that we're all in this together. Your neighbor knows exactly what you're going through and, perhaps for the first time ever, can relate to you 100%. Lastly, no amount of worry will ever change our reality. As much of ourselves as we give to worry, we must realize that anxiety can only do one thing well: sap all trace of joy from our lives.

To borrow a modern day cliche, the coronavirus "is what it is." Our situation is what it is, for better or worse. There are things we cannot control - being stuck indoors, finding certain grocery items on empty store shelves, navigating the closures, remote learning, etc. - so why should we spend our time stressing over what we cannot change and filling our heads with crippling thoughts? Why not enjoy the time we have with loved ones or savor the peace and quiet we now have to ourselves? What better time to pick up the phone and make a few calls to show you care? 

Just as you are what you eat, we also become what we think. These are days to blossom as humans, not decay from worry. Your happiness and sanity depends on it. 


"If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present."  - Lao Tzu  

Lao Tzu was a Chinese philosopher in the 4th century BCE. Since his name literally translates to "Old Master," I frequently go back to his writings to glean bits of wisdom and to find relevant advice from 2400 years ago. What can I say? The Old Master has never let me down.

Direct and to the point, Lao Tzu's mission was to achieve tranquility in all things. But living a life of tranquility can be a very difficult thing to master, especially when you add kids, modern day math, remote learning, empty store shelves, and a pandemic to the mix.

One thing we can be certain of: we will never find peace if we're expecting to cohabitate with anxiety, fear, or depression. Like water and oil, they simply do not mix. So let's think about those things for a moment. Are you anxious about the empty store shelves? Bear in mind, there was never a shortage of food, hand sanitizer, or toilet paper to begin with. Soon enough they will be back on shelves as normal. Concerned about helping your kids with common core math and what their report cards will show at the end of the school year? I'm pretty sure their teachers can empathize with you and know how difficult this time is for parents. Depressed? (I'm not speaking in terms of diagnosed depression, rather "the blues" or "sadness") Remember that you're not alone. It's highly likely that your friends would LOVE to hear your voice, so pick up the phone or have a Netflix watch party with them. 

The greatest cure for anxiety and depression is to live for today, not for yesterday or tomorrow. Enjoy the moment, for this moment is all we have right now and time is a luxury that can never be refilled. Get to know yourself and your family/friends better. Enroll in free online classes. Read more books. Play games with your kids (I'll admit it: playing Fortnite duos with my kids has been a blast!). Paint. Cook. Get into K-Pop. Simplify your life. Enjoy your life. By all means, get bored. Many of the greatest ideas in history sprung from someone getting bored out of their mind and living in the present tense to cure it.


"The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me."  - King David

Psalms 23 may only be six verses long but there is a world of poetic wisdom in each and every line. Written around 1000 BCE, the 23rd Psalm is just one of many poems written by the unconventional giant-slayer who was well-acquainted with stress and the unpredictable peaks and valleys we all face in life. 

As a child, David was a shepherd. When he wrote the 23rd Psalm, he was the king of a powerful nation. Knowing this makes the poem all the more shocking, for in it we see a man who struggled with fear, was running on empty, and compared himself to the helpless animal he grew up taking care of. Why would a king, who could rightfully claim all things for himself, admit to such weakness in himself? 

Because it was true. 

Despite all of that, Psalms 23 paints such a vivid picture of the greater glories ahead. Trust. Peace. Rest. A time when shadows fade as springtime overwhelms the darkness.

How beautiful is that? 

One of the greatest gifts to give yourself during these vastly uncertain times is to wake each morning with the words of King David in your mind and on your lips. Trust in their truth. Find peace in their promise. Rest in their righteousness. Speak them into existence as you begin each day. Make them your motto. Your creed. Your poem and your prayer. 

But don't take my word for it. Take the word of the shepherd who slayed his own nightmarish giant with nothing more than a small and insignificant stone and a trust in Someone bigger than any obstacle to ever stand in his path.

"Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever."  


Loving Your Neighbor, One Call at a Time

03-19-2020

Call me crazy, but I recently started answering my phone every time it rings.

Every. Single. Time.

There's no way I could accurately tell you when I ever stopped doing this but my best guess is it happened 16-18 years ago. So why did I start picking up the phone again? I guess you'd call it a natural - albeit long dormant - desire for human connection in the midst of the self-quarantine.

Two calls came back-to-back on Tuesday evening. Both had 260 prefixes. Oddly enough, neither was a dreaded robo-caller. What are the chances of that ever happening two times in a row?

The second of the two came right after I sat down with a cup of tea in hand and Sara Pennypacker's latest novel, "Here in the Real World," to keep me company. Now, if I were writing this story a week ago, things would have turned out much differently. A week ago, the scene would have played out exactly like this:

Man glances at phone.

Man doesn't recognize number.

Man mutes phone, returns to book.

What can I say? Much has changed in the last week. 

Anyhow, while I was definitely enjoying the book and already savoring the hot cup of tea in my hand, I've been trying really hard these days to practice what I preach. Therefore, I picked up the phone and answered it like a good neighbor would have answered a wall-mounted rotary phone back in 1982.

"Hello?" I answered, feeling much like a ball mid-spin on a roulette wheel.

"Hi, this is Susan from The Pointe Church." I didn't need a last name to connect the name to a face. Susan is a greeter at my church, and a memorable one at that. The first time I had ever spoken to Susan, I felt like we had known each other for years. Needless to say, her role as a volunteer greeter at The Pointe is a perfect fit. "I wanted to give you a call to see how you and your family are holding up. Pastor Ray thought it would be a great idea to check in on everyone and see if there's anything we can help with."

"Wow." I set my book down, beaming from ear to ear. I had just written about this very act of neighborly kindness (it was my #1) and was thrilled to be on the receiving end of it on the exact same day. "Thank you so much for calling- it really does mean a lot to us. We're actually doing great at the moment. We have food, and my wife and I work remotely so we're pretty much set for now." 

We spoke for a couple more minutes before Susan was kind enough to pray for us. Once she finished, I thanked her and we said goodbye. 

Wow. 

I just said that, didn't I? Well, then? double wow. 

As soon as I hung up, one emotion bubbled up above all others: 

Happiness. Real happiness. So much happiness that I picked up the phone and called her back 24 hours later. Aside from that human connection I'd been craving, I really just wanted to hear what it was like to spend a whole day calling people out of kindness, with no other motivation than love.

What I learned was pretty shocking. 

On Tuesday, staff at The Pointe Church called more than 2000 people who call the church their home. Susan accounted for 78 of those calls, with me being one of them. Of those 78 calls, no one hung up on her. When she left a voicemail, many called her right back to express gratitude for the unexpected kindness. Such was their shock that someone from their church would care enough to call and see how they were doing.

Prior to calling Susan back, I also reached out to Ray Harris, the senior pastor and founder of The Pointe Church, to get his take on their mission of neighboring by phone. He told me that although The Pointe can't gather in the same way as normal at this time, the church staff cares deeply for each and every person who's ever walked through their doors. "We are calling families because we want every member to know how much they are loved. And we want them to know that should a need arise, all they need to do is call us." He went on to explain that they have prayed with more than 1000 people this week, as many of them are dealing with anxiety while being stuck at home alone. 

Although Ray didn't bring it up, Susan was quick to point out that he had personally called a number of members himself, choosing to focus on those who were alone and/or more at-risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.

In closing, Ray was quick to explain that "we serve a God full of hope and love for us, and we simply want to be a reflection of Him in this pandemic."

While there are many passages that paint beautiful pictures of what it means to be a reflection of God's love, my mind is immediately drawn to Galatians 5:14:

For the entire law is fulfilled in this one command: 

'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

I'd say they're on the right track.

So how does this work for you and I? How do we get from our years of ingrained phone distancing to the place where we can pick up the phone and naturally call our own neighbors without hesitation? For Susan, the gift comes naturally. The same cannot be said for me and maybe not even you.

One of the things to remember is that each phone call need not be thirty minutes of forced and awkward small talk. The point of checking in is to see how your neighbor is holding up, offer encouragement, and display empathy. After all, you likely have a good idea of what they're going through and know exactly how they're feeling. For Susan and I, our call was no more than five minutes - long enough to cover all of the bases mentioned above and to say a word of prayer to end it all.

To begin with, start with a close friend or family member. When you say goodbye, pull up your contacts list and give it another shot. While you may not be able to get through 78 names in one day, aim for a reasonable number. Let's say 10 people you're more than acquaintances with. Not everyone will pick up, but if half of them do, you've probably spent about 30-45 minutes on the phone if you follow the method above. The next day, expand your audience to those who may not have ever expected a call from you, even though you've exchanged contact info. The more you call, the more comfortable you'll get. What's more, you'll start to become addicted to the feeling it gives you.

Sound reasonable? Will you give it a shot? If so, I'd love to hear about your experience and follow up with you about the impact it had on your and potentially your neighbor. Reach out to me at robert@nlfw.org over the next few days. I firmly believe that picking up the phone will change your entire outlook on neighboring. 



Tips On Calling Neighbors Through NeighborLink: 

If you're a volunteer, you can login and can find all the New/Needs Coached projects. Each one of these neighbors are actively waiting for help, especially a phone call. That's good news because they're already eager to hear from someone. 

Start With What Feels Comfortable: You can search zip code to try and find your close proximity neighbors. You can search by recipient issue that is most important to you, such as disability, elderly, or single parent to name a few. Narrow those 200+ projects down to a more comfortable starting point. 

Don't Worry About the Project Type: Focus just on the phone call. We know there are some needs on there that are likely beyond what you can do. This is about making connecting, not about doing at this point. Call anyway. 

The Call: Identify yourself and let them know you see they are asking for help (with whatever they're asking for) on NeighborLink's website. They should remember, but sometime they don't as you can imagine with often older individuals who ask for help in many different places, daily. Reassure them that they contact NL and just keep talking. They come around. Let them know the reason for your call is to check in on them, learn more about their project and situation, and that you aren't able to help them with that project (unless you can) but you do want to check in on them. Then, the call will go from there. Remember, the thing you can always do is to ask them if they have anything you can pray for or whether they'd appreciate being check back in on.  

How'd It Go?: The reality is that most calls will go great. Some will be short and to the point, some will go long because they need to talk, and some might not go ok. However they go, it's a reflection of how they're doing overall, not a reflection of your efforts. Many of these folks have been vulnerable for much longer than the past few weeks and the COVID-19 just complicates things. That's the point of encouragement. 

Update The Project: If you were able to gain some additional information that would be helpful for NeighborLink staff or other volunteers who could see that project at a later date, please update the project description. You can enter that in the description box by hitting the Manage Project button, or you can leave it easily in the Discussion box on the project page. NL staff will be notified any time there is an update and we'll follow up with you or make edits on our side. 

Additional Projects: If the neighbor you talk to discloses some additional needs or projects, please create a new project on the website so we can track it and you can have the information. For instance, if they want regular interaction and you're up for doing that, create a Prayer/Encouragement project with their information. Or, if they need Errands Run, create a project for that. This keeps their original need that you may/may not have been able to meet there while creating new opportunities. NL staff is happy to help you with that. Simply write down the project number or the name/info of that person, give us a call or email, and we'll help get a new project created with you. 

Remember, there is no obligation to help any neighbor with the project you're using to make connection or any future project they may disclose to you. Point of this exercise is to make connection with neighbors that may not have anyone checking in on them to express care, bring joy, and offer prayer if that's your desire. 

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Summer Internship Opportunities

Small Things Video Series - Food

How Projects Get Funded at NeighborLink

We Love Getting Thank You Cards

We Still Get Surprised

We're Looking For Web Developers

Where Are You Going to Sit?

The Justice Conference - Simulcast in Fort Wayne

Intern Update By Andrew & Jon

Funded Project Report - Project 4243

10 Things We're Working On In 2013

Meet The New Interns - Jonathan Purdy

Meet The New Interns - Andrew Schnurr

10 Things You Should Know About How 2012 Went at NeighborLink

1st Successfully Funded Project in 2013

Thanks, Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

New Love Your Neighbor T-Shirts

Our Reflect. Rejoice. Renew. Event was a Success!

Core Philosophies Reminder

Reflect. Rejoice. Renew. Film

A Conversation Between Two Pastors - Part 4

A Conversation Between Two Pastors - Part 3

A Conversation Between Two Pastors - Part 2

A Conversation Between Two Pastors - Part 1

Calling Artists for December 10th Event

Thanks Three Rivers Wesleyan!

Going from Volunteer to Coach

4th Annual Leaf Raking Challenge - Nov 10th

Around The Block - Telling The Stories of NeighborLink

The People of The Second Chance

Energizing Indiana & NeighborLink Fort Wayne

NeighborLink, Meet Viola..Your Neighbor

Volunteers Exceeded 500 Projects in 2012!

Casting New Vision For the NLFW Advisory Group

Jeff Shatto Rides 682 Miles For NeighborLink Fort Wayne

Raise The Roof Was a Success!

Our First Fully Crowd-Funded Project!

New Kid on The Block - Week 6 - HEART

Raise The Roof Promo Video

New Kid on The Block - Week 5 - PURPOSE: IT'S FOR THE BIRDS

The Story of Grub & Go - New Videos

Raise The Roof - 5 Roofs in One Weekend!

New Kid on The Block - Week 4 - OFF THE RECORD

The Power in Showing Up

New Kid on The Block - Week 3 - Originality is Overrated

Living In The Tension of Serving

NeighborLink Network Retreat - We all Need Community

New Kid on The Block - Week 2 - "Decent"

New Kid on the Block - Week 1 Recap

Great American Cleanup Was a Success!

NeighborLink Fort Wayne & The Great American Cleanup

Cornerstone Landscape Group Serves NeighborLink Recipients

Northeast Fort Wayne Service Days Announced

NLFW Wants to Partner With Contractors

NeighborLink Fort Wayne Launches Crowdfunding Tool

Team NeighborLink & Fort 4 Fitness Spring Cycle

Longing For More Workers - Reflections on the Harvest