Yesterday I (Nicole) had the opportunity to help build a wheelchair ramp with a group of our NeighborLink volunteers. As the Team NeighborLink Coordinator, the entirety of my summer has been almost exclusively devoted to tasks like The Great 80, Night Moves, the Setting Sun Ladies Run, and everything in between. All of my work with Team NeighborLink activities is done with the ultimate goal of spreading awareness and raising funds for NeighborLink Fort Wayne, so I was excited to get involved in a volunteer project.
If I had to describe my experience in one word it be empowering. I went into this project with little to no experience building anything as major as a wheelchair ramp, but I was still able to participate in the ramp's construction. There was a lot I had to learn, but the group I worked with was patient and eager to teach me.
The volunteers showed me community by meeting me where I was at and helping me through the learning process. They also showed me what it meant to take action. This group saw a need in their community and responded to their conviction by doing something about it. I think it is admirable to have the desire to make a difference, but it is truly inspiring to see people who have actually taken the step, moved outside of their comfort zone, and worked to accomplish something greater than themselves.
Overall, I rediscovered how easy it is to limit yourself. I walked into the volunteer project yesterday slightly intimidated and not knowing what to expect. Everyone knows it is good to step outside your comfort zone, but that does not make it any less uncomfortable. However, once I took that step yesterday, I found it to be extremely rewarding. I learned a new skill, met some great people, made a difference in my community, and all I had to do was show up to a volunteer project. Sometimes the things that change us are not the major decisions but the small ones we make along the way. Small things can change neighborhoods and small things can change us too.
Team NeighborLink Coordinator