Post by Holly Durkee
This past weekend was perhaps one of the best weekends of my life?and that is not an exaggeration. In order to fully explain why, I need to first give a little background information, so bear with me.
Last April, I began my journey with NeighborLink. It feels like just yesterday that I was talking with Andrew in the downtown Starbucks as I was interviewing to be the summerPublic Relations Intern. Over the course of this year I gained quality professional experience, but even more importantly learned how to truly love my neighbor.
As my time ended as an intern last fall, I was sad to no longer be coming into the office to do my daily duties and learn from Andrew. Though it did not take long for me to realize that it was not the end. Once you are part of the NeighborLink family it's almost impossible to no longer be a part of it, because it is not just an organization it is a way of life. My time at NeighborLink taught me that it is our choice to love our neighbor and to see the opportunities to love them.NeighborLink is essentially a meeting place for neighbors, what we choose to do from there is in our control. So my goal was to continue living out what I learned.
One of the thingsI decided to do after "leaving" NeighborLink was to incorporate the organization into my senior project. My goal was simple: to build a relationship between Saint Francis students andNeighborLink. To meet this goal, I decided to create a presentation explaining how God calls us to Love ourNeighbor and how NeighborLink offers us excellent opportunities to live out that mission. In addition, I decided to Coach a project and invite my peers atSaint Francis to join me!
This brings us back to the where I started. My amazing weekend ;)
I am happy to say that on April 11th & 12th, 20 Saint Francis students joined me as we helped Olga re-paint her garage.
I met Olga about a month ago after seeing her project on the NL website. The awesome thing was that she literally lives one street over from my home. It probably takes me about 2 minutes to walk there. After meeting her, I knew it was the perfect job for my fellow classmates and I to tackle. She is as sweet as can be, and was excited to have an extra set of hands to help her out. The garage was peeling and bubbling excessively and Olga's back couldn't quite keep up with the project.
Sunshine poured on us the entire weekend as we worked on scraping and painting the garage.Jesus was really looking out. On the first day, eight of us chipped away the paint as we scraped the entire garage!
The next day we started the day with six volunteers and ended with fourteen! The day started with finishing up some of the scraping and then progressively moving onto the painting. At the beginning of the day Olga was out there with us raking up the leaves leftover from the fall. She loves gardening and was excited to get going with the beautiful weather.
When I looked around at all my peers helping out Olga in such a meaningful way, I honestly almost began crying.Witnessing several people working together to help someone out only seconds away from school perfectly captured what I learned at NeighborLink. Everyone cared about Olga, everyone was working diligently, everyone was having a good time, and love just poured out of each person. It was powerful to witness. I am so thankful for all those who helped out. We made a great team! Several of my classmates showed interest in NeighborLink's mission as well, so say some prayers they discern becoming a volunteer and/or coach! Here's a snapshot of the group that day.
After the garage was finally finished and the last volunteers made there way back to campus I had the opportunity to talk with Olga one-on-one. Talking with her, I saw appreciation flowing from her smile and gentle spirit. We talked about the details of future plans with the garage and about life in general. She liked my sunglasses, and luckily I had a pair to share! Then she ran into her house and found me an emerald necklace after she found out I was a May baby. It was the world's most beautiful necklace and the most humbling gift. When she gave it to me she said, "So you always remember me". There is no way I will forget her, and hopefully I will get to meet with her again soon! I mean we are neighbors after all.