Love your neighbor.

Reflections With Robert - The First Four Months - May 22, 2020

05-22-2020

It’s hard to believe that the four month anniversary of my one year term at NeighborLink came and went yesterday. Even harder to believe is the fact that half of my tenure has been spent working from home, with 25% of that total spent in flux as my family jumped from one Airbnb reservation to the next. 

From where I stand today, January is a lifetime of memories long past. I feel aged and older, having grown a countless number of ways. The terms “neighbor” and “neighboring” have become commonplace words for not only me, but my family as well. I look at people differently. The same could be said for houses, too. Compassion for others has risen to the surface in ways I haven’t experienced since my years of living overseas. 

It’s amazing what can happen while immersed in a culture such as NeighborLink.

I’ve spent the last couple of days reflecting on these first four months. My emphasis has settled on the most meaningful life-shifts experienced during my time as NeighborLink’s Storytelling and Journalism Coordinator by way of the AmeriCorps VISTA program. Although the entire four month period has been eye-opening and laced with profound discoveries (with side helpings of heartbreaking and soul-shattering sights thrown in), I’ve compiled the three most enlightening ones that have carved deep lessons of life, love, kindness, and neighboring into my heart.

My First Ride Along

My first ride along came early in my third week at NeighborLink. It was an experience I was ill-prepared for.  

The first part of the morning provided context for all of the minutiae that goes into getting most projects off of the ground. Aside from taking my first trip to Home Depot in who-knows-how-long, it provided a glimpse of how and where ramps are built by NeighborLink volunteers. 

The second half of the day was spent visiting a handful of neighbors undergoing special projects. Two of these visits struck like lightning bolts, leaving me permanently charred. Both helped me fully grasp the value NeighborLink brings to the disadvantaged, alone, and hurting. Also significant were the lasting relationships that had formed between two pair of neighbors and volunteers we visited, and the fact that each struggling homeowner - despite such hardships as blindness and brain cancer - radiated with pure joy.

As we returned to the office for the day, I sat in the back of the truck in silence. Sure, it was difficult to hold myself together, but the most striking thing of all was the first true realization of where my job would take me moving forward. It was humbling, scary, and exciting.

Unprepared


One of my goals for February was to sit down with a homeowner in need and listen to their story. My hope was to create a moving portrayal that would penetrate the hearts of viewers while conveying the ultimate reason NeighborLink exists- all within the span of 3 to 4 minutes.

After finding our neighbor, I set out with NeighborLink’s videographer, Steve, to capture the story Out of the Woods. On the way to the home site, I felt vastly unprepared for the task. Not only was it my first actual storytelling project, but it was my first trip to a homesite without someone else to lead and direct me along. I was nervous, uncertain, and hopelessly afraid. I hoped I would not embarrass myself but was sure I would stumble over my words and fail to portray what was in my head.

As soon as I stepped into the house, all of my worries disappeared. Not only were the homeowners gracious and kind, but it only took two minutes for us to find a myriad of similarities between ourselves. Because of that, we spent nearly two hours talking, laughing, and crying as if we had known each other for years. Upon leaving their house, I felt so humbled and honored that God would gift me with such a special morning. I found it difficult to speak the rest of the day, such was the impact those two hours had on my life.

Stepping Up to the Challenge

Shortly after moving into our new house, my wife had the brilliant idea to create and distribute face masks for workers serving on the frontlines during the nationwide lockdown. Having seen other fantastic ideas of hers like this in the past, I knew I would be sorry if I failed to capture her story and share it with as many people as possible.

Although the video was shot when she was only getting started, her vision quickly took root and bloomed with unexpected results. She was immediately swamped with requests from all across the country. Despite the extra time and effort required from her project, she continued to pour herself into it day after day despite working a full-time job while being a mother and wife.

Her determination and persistence has always been an inspiring sight to behold. I cannot help but be motivated when I see her passion, work ethic, and grit. This time around it prompted me to come up with a neighborly goal of my own. Shortly after we filmed her NL Stories video, I launched a fundraiser to help those suffering through a lockdown-related hunger crisis in the Philippines. Although my goal was to raise $400 for food distribution, donors contributed $1700 to people on the other side of the world they had never met before. At the foundation of this all was my wife's incredible drive to step up to the plate in a desperate time of need and do something about it. I would have never come up with the idea for the fundraiser if it wasn’t for her example, as portrayed in the video above.

***

While the first third of my year has come and gone in a flash, the lessons I've learned have been invaluable. I can’t wait to see what the next four months bring to the table as spring turns into a very busy summer of neighboring. My only hope is that my skills and talents as a writer and storyteller can do it all justice.

Latest News

Reflections With Robert - Between Waking and Sleeping - August 3, 2020

4th Annual Be A Good Neighbor Week Recap

Reflections With Robert - The Greatest Art - July 13, 2020

Now Hiring: Project Facilitator

Summer Intern Spotlight - Ben Richards

Reflections With Robert - Strangers and Sojourners - July 5, 2020

Summer Intern Spotlight - Kyle Zurbuch

Reflections With Robert - In Silence - June 29, 2020

Reflections With Robert - Enemy Territory - June 20, 2020

Reflections With Robert - When the Conscience Speaks -June 12, 2020

Reflections With Robert - Sumer of Love - May 29, 2020

Reflections With Robert - The First Four Months - May 22, 2020

Reflections With Robert - Strangers Into Neighbors - May 15, 2020

Reflections With Robert - Rebirth - May 8, 2020

#GivingTuesdayNow

PRESS RELEASE: $5,000 Grant from AWS Foundation

Reflections With Robert - City of Smiles - April 24, 2020

PRESS RELEASE: $25,000 Grant from Foellinger Foundation

Reflections With Robert - Blessed are the Poor - April 17, 2020

Now Hiring: Videographer

Reflections With Robert - Mindfulness - April 10, 2020

How Churches Can Use NeighborLink During Covid-19

Reflections With Robert - Quan Am - April 2, 2020

Reflections With Robert - Siopao - March 27, 2020

NeighborLink's Role as an Essential Non-Profit

How To Post Additional Projects For Same Neighbor

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

Loving Your Neighbor, One Call at a Time

In the Aftermath

How to Love Your Neighbor (In Times Like These)

3.16.20 Press Release - NEIGHBORLINK FORT WAYNE RESPONSE PLANS TO COVID-19

Volunteer Opportunities - Food Delivery

Volunteer Recommendations During COVID-19

3.13.20 - OUR COVID-19 RESPONSE

NL Renewing Partnership with AmeriCorps for Exciting Job Opportunities

Reflections With Robert - Moving Day - March 9, 2020

Reflections With Robert - Smidging - March 2, 2020

Bernie on a Journey - Part 28 - February 28, 2020

Reflections With Robert - Margin - February 24, 2020

Bernie on a Journey - Part 27 - February 22, 2020

Reflections With Robert - Abad - February 17, 2020

Bernie on a Journey - Part 26 - February 14, 2020

Reflections With Robert - Pothole - February 10, 2020

Bernie on a Journey - Part 25 - February 7, 2020

Bernie on a Journey - Part 24 - January 31, 2020

Reflections With Robert - Journey to Day One - February 3, 2020

Bernie on a Journey - Part 23 - January 10, 2020

Bernie on a Journey - Part 22 - December 20, 2019

Celebrating Another Great Year at NeighborLink

The Final Turnstone Ramp

Bernie on a Journey - Part 21 - December 6, 2019

Giving Tuesday!

Bernie on a Journey - Part 20 - November 29, 2019

Bernie on a Journey - Part 19 - November 22, 2019

Bernie on a Journey - Part 18 - November 15, 2019

What Makes a Healthy Neighborhood, Healthy? Research Report

Bernie on a Journey - Part 17 - November 8, 2019

Bernie on a Journey - Part 16 - November 1, 2019

Bernie on a Journey - Part 15 - October 25, 2019

Bernie on a Journey - Part 14 - October 21, 2019

Bernie on a Journey - Part 13 - A Busy Multi-Week Recap

Bernie on a Journey - Part 12 - September 13, 2019

Bernie on a Journey - Part 11 - September 6, 2019

Bernie on a Journey - Part 10 - August 30, 2019

NeighborLink Fort Wayne Teams up with Addison Agen to Host Concert

Bernie on a Journey - Part 9 - August 23, 2019

Bernie on a Journey - Part 8 - August 16, 2019

Recent Website Improvements

Bernie on a Journey - Part 7 - August 9, 2019

Bernie on a Journey - Part 6 - August 2, 2019

Bernie On A Journey - Part 5 - July 26, 2019

Bernie On A Journey - Part 4 - July 19, 2019

Bernie On A Journey - Part 3 - July 12, 2019

Bernie On A Journey - Part 2 - June 27, 2019

Bernie On A Journey - Part 1 - June 24, 2019

Let???s start from the top???At The Link with Steve Erick

Home Incentive Program (HIP) & What Makes A Healthy Neighborhood Healthy

Who's Posting All The Projects?

NeighborLink Teams Up with AmeriCorps for Exciting Job Opportunities

Showing Up for 15 Years

Hiring! Motion Graphics Apprentice

2018 NeighborLink Fall Leaf Raking Assistance

Hiring! Videographer Apprentice

Be A Good Neighbor Week Recap

NeighborLink In The News Recently

We're offering a Home Owner Improvement Grant: Is it for you?

The Wheel Chair Ramp Story

An Opportunity to be a Good Neighbor

NeighborLink Welcomes Three New Staff

NeighborLink Growing Again

At The Table Lunch Series

Easter Reflections

Innovation Comes In Many Forms

Gardens For Good Collaboration

2018 Be A Good Neighbor Week - July 9-14th

2017 Annual Report

We're In This Together

Finding the Intersection - AWS Foundation

Living out a Familiar Call in Unfamiliar Ways - Brotherhood Mutual

A Mission To Serve - The Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne

A New Era of Nonprofit Leadership - Foellinger Foundation

On Investing Well - M.E. Raker Foundation

2017 - NeighborLink Year End Event

#GivingTuesday - Help Rolland Get Heat

Love Tells A Story - Year-End Event

A Day In The Life of Jeff Shatto

Recap of "Be a Good Neighbor Week"

Why Be a Good Neighbor Week

Be a Good Neighbor Week - July 10th - 14th

The Power of an Intentional Birthday

NeighborLink is Hiring - Volunteer Recruitment Director

NeighborLink In The News

The Difference You Make

New NeighborLink Features & Changes

9 Years and Counting

2016 - "At The Link" - Where We're At

700 Completed Projects in 2016

New NeighborLink Website!

St Vincent DePaul Society - Year End Impact

100 Completed Projects in a Month!

"Blinded"

Leaf Raking Season Is Here!

The Sacrifice of Giving

Team NL Cyclocross Riders Are Cycling to Raise $6000+ for Neighbors in Need

NeighborLink Collaborates with Bravas

When You Can't Help Everyone

Summer Recap and Looking Forward

Behind Our "Get Out of Your House" Video

Recap of August Service Days

Update on NeighborLink's Search for a New Building

What I Learned While Volunteering

Jake & Mallory Shinneman, Team NeighborLink

Update on $100,00 Grant

Gay Penland, Volunteer

Ben Steele, Team NeighborLink Ambassador

25 Years Strong: Dayton Group Keeps Serving, This Year in Fort Wayne

Here's What's Been Happening with Mission Serve This Week

Spending a Day with Jeff Shatto, Director of Mobilization

The Alveys, Neighbors

Chris Minick, Neighbor

JP & Grub 'n Go

Kami's Reflection on Internship Experience

Carol Kortokrax, Neighbor

Intern Nicole Talks About Her Experience So Far

NeighborLink Completes 15th Wheelchair Ramp for 2016!

Kat Reflects on First Few Weeks of Her Internship

Even More Website Updates

Website Updates

The $100,000 Update

We're Hiring! Program Support Person

Want $5,000 To Help A Neighbor In Need? We've Got it.

NeighborLink Partners with the City of Fort Wayne

Missional Coffee Gatherings with NeighborLink

New Committees at NeighborLink

NeighborLink Searching for Contractors to Hire To Skilled Projects

2016 Winter Training Series

Furnace Fundraising Report

Neighbors At The Table Event Recap

Feathers For Heat - Fundraising Campaign

Meet Elisa Layton, NL's New Program Director

It's Leaf Raking Season

Esther Gets New Roof!

NeighborLink Receives $8,000 Grant

NeighborLink Fort Wayne Receives $500 Donation from AT&T

I'm Growing and I'm Grateful

NeighborLink Women's Breakfast Gathering

New Feature - Text & Email Notifications

A Family Affair: The Story of the Menefe Roofing Project

NLFW.org Features - Service Events

Volunteers Respond to Fort Wayne Flooding

NeighborLink Welcomes Summer Intern, Katie Fair

Meet Millie! Our New Mobile Project Management Vehicle

Running For a Roof

Can Burgers Make a Difference?

"Neighbor-To-Neighbor"

Volunteering In Crisis Situations

March 28th - Intro to NL & Volunteer Training

Creating Project Type Maps

Volunteering: Small Things Make Big Changes

Walking In Winter

The Extra Step

NeighborLink Seeking Design Intern

Recent NeighborLink Website Updates!

NeighborLink Network Android App Launches!

NeighborLink Welcomes Heather Schoegler to its Board of Directors

Volunteers Painted 122 City of Fort Wayne Fire Hydrants

It's Leaf Raking Season!

NeighborLink To Present at IN Statewide Conference on Oct 1st

Recent Website Updates

"How Many Yards Can You Mow In One Day?"

The Committed Few

Roxanne's Landscaping Project

Team NeighborLink Meet & Greet Info Session

35 Volunteers Help at Camp Red Cedar

Summer Volunteer Schedule at NeighborLink

Fundraiser Success! Allena Got a Hot Water Heater

Not Your Usual Birthday

Project Recap: St Francis Students Paint Garage

Project 200 in 2014 Just Completed!

IPFW Big Event Recap

Welcome Jeff Shatto To NLFW

NL Welcomes Derek Webb - May 24th

Moving Project Success

Exploring the Role of Dignity at NeighborLink

New Website Overview

The Crossing & NeighborLink Partner

We Always Appreciate the Promotion

The Beauty in the Challenge

2013 Year In Review

Encouraging Words.

NeighborLink Year-End Event - December 3rd

Neighbor Of The Year Nomination

A Little Thank You

The Nameless

Brett Meyer Is Raising $1000 For NeighborLink At Fort4Fitness

Who Will You Nominate for Neighbor of the Year?

Intern Update: Last Day (For real this time)

Big Advice Can Come in Small Packages

Intern Update: LAST DAY...sort of.

Picnicking Success!!

Tip #3: Have Conversations with your Neighbors

Lula & Willie's New Railings

Lunch and Learn - Heather Schoegler

Tip #2: Lend a Hand

New Porch Completed!

NeighborLink joins 3 Rivers Raft Race!

Roxann's House

Intern Update: How Time Flies

Tip #1: Take Cookies To Your Neighbor

Code Enforcement Is A Great Partner

Got Tips?

Putting forth the Effort

Lunch & Learn: Joe & Becky

Rejecting Apathy in Service

Empowering the Youth!

Lord, I Need You

Do more than exist.

Top 5 Things to know about working for NL

Project #4461: Coming Together to Help Roberta

Be Extraordinary in the Ordinary!

Lunch n' Learn: John Barce

A World of Beauty

What Makes a Great Neighbor?

Hydrants: Round One = Complete

Small Things Impacting Neighborhoods

An Honest Confession

An Intern Update: Reflecting at Yummee's

Let us Celebrate the Crowd Funding!

Relationships vs. the Works

Scraping, Painting, & Learning

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.

Appreciating the Fire Hydrants

Introducing Your NL Interns

Connecting The Dots: Team NeighborLink

Intern Update By Andrew & Jon - 5.7.13

NeighborLink Fort Wayne Birthday Campaign

This Makes It Worth It

Weigand Construction Volunteers With NeighborLink Fort Wayne

Hack-A-Thon Recap

Thank You For Your Service

Cornerstone Youth Center Spring Break Project 2013

Engaging the Recipient Training Notes

Intern Update By Andrew & Jon - 4.8.13

NLFW.org Hack-A-Thon! Friday, April 26th

New Coach Resource

Update - Urgent Moving Project - It's Almost Done

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