By: Katie Austin
“The best helping hand that you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.”
What a great quote that is! It’s so easy to stretch out your hand expecting something in return. We all did that as kids as we thought that our parents were a walking ATM. But if you turn your palm over, you are the one reaching your hand out to help someone. A simple twist of the wrist is all it takes!
I have always been the type of person that strives to treat others the way that I want to be treated, giving what I can through charitable donations. After battling breast cancer last year, I decided that wasn’t enough. It was too easy to give through a paycheck deduction and leave my involvement at just that. I wanted to do more, but I wasn’t sure how or where to start. Then, it happened and everything became clear.
One day I stopped by my local post office and while parking my car, I noticed a homeless man, slumped over on the curb with a sign that read “I will work for food.” I have seen this situation many times and most often I passed them by, not sure of what to do or if it would be safe to approach them. This time, it was different. I had just visited the grocery store, having picked up a few extra items so I opened the trunk, pulled out a sandwich combo meal, a bottle of water and walked over to give it to him. He looked up, telling me “God bless you” as he began to devour the meal. I smiled, walked back to my car and drove off. Not sooner than I left that I noticed I forgot to go into the post office to mail the package I had with me. But, with a smile on my face, I realized that I was there for a bigger reason. I cried all the way home, struggling with the idea that I could have done more. Then, it hit me! I needed to get involved with organizations to do what I could to help those in similar situations.
Soon after, I was signed up to attend the recent United Way sponsored project “SC Mission 2011: Midlands” that provided free medical, dental, vision and mammograms to those that could not afford coverage. The event took place at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina on August 5-6, 2011. I worked from 5AM to 12PM and loved every moment that I was there! I worked in the medical triage area with the nurses and a few of the volunteers. We would bring people down to get looked at by the nurses, take them to get an x-ray, echo cardiogram, blood work or to be seen by a doctor. I met everyone with a smile, called them by their first name and tried to keep their spirits up as they worked through the process. I will never forget their smiles and how appreciative they were that this event was taking place. Some waited in line since 4pm the day before, spending the night on the concrete sidewalk that hugged the coliseum. I will be forever changed by the people I met that day and my prayer for them is that they received half as much as I did from them.
You can read more about this event by going to http://www.thestate.com/2011/08/10/1928599/event-highlights-painful-need.html#storylink=misearch
Remember to reach out your hand to help those in need as you never know when you will need a hand.