Thanks-giving was full & generous at SM Civic 2010

December 4, 2010 wowveniceisactive

I too volunteered on Thanksgiving…and so want to share that story here

for those who want to volunteer there next year, write this place: westsidethanksgiving@gmail.com
 I had many many wonderful experiences and also 3 unsettling ones at the Santa Monica Civic Aud on Nov 25, 2010.  To honor and thanks the multitude of strangers who also volunteered there, I offer this as “our story” of our being there together, teamworking, diligently, and SERVING all and each person who arrived f or this celebration.

 I arrived at 9am instead of instructed 11 am hr on 11/25/2010 and found my assignment as “bottle washer”   which at an ‘elder” age with delicate skin was not appropriate for me. IU was sent to search for another assignment …and instead found myself  ‘falling’ or ‘flowing’ into helping a charming woman-volunteer at  the entrance to room for incoming other volunteers, who needed a bit of direction to where chairs for new workers to be assigned were sent….She and I worked so cooperatively, in constant flow of people – all kinds, races, ages, incomes or education, all  coming in to “help” with genuine caring…


She directed them from entry room to me, and I gave them my blurb about 1st procedure – have refreshments, sit down, raise hand when wanting assignment called out by a more Authoratative  organizer [?] woman in headphones in front and go ! 

and I got to say then and thereto each incoming person : ‘thank you for coming to volunteer’  too of course. What a honor to see each eye to eye and with recognition of what we were doing there. Together.

Because of spontaneous positioning myself, I also noted when some few conniving con people attempted entry to GET whatever w/o being volunteer-prone.
I asked them if they had registered to volunteer, asked them to go back to that area, and yet only the few who were hard core greedy grabbers tried to get past my keeping order and acting responsibly at this entry point. We all wore paper badges with a name ID, servers of the other people who came to receive more: food and many services for freee with love too.
 
reflecting later, there were only 3 people who tried to force their way into this unassigned area, all were surprisingly women of color, and very demanding to get whatever they wanted anyhow….one went past me anyhow quickly disappearing into crowd of actual registered volunteers 2x, then got a sticker but was not a worker, but a clever imposter…as I observed at times.

Other one was in wheelchair with another woman and girl with her, insisting she was “one of the original organizers”, and such lies, while her chair pusher cleverly walked around me to get plate to feed from working volunteer refreshments [what they came in this way for – to get…]. Their insistence that they could do whatever they wanted to do and my wanting to keep order, be fair, be responsible and insure that others do so also, being firm, but maybe the scene escalated to louder as it was definitely intense…

sudden the head honcho headphoned woman was in front of me reprimanding me w/o saying of what..but that it was Thanksgiving and something about being “kind” [she assumed I was not and that letting people continue to lie, take what is not theirs, and get away with their games again is a kindness to them ??? ] and then sent me into the main aud to the opening prayer. In any other manner, tone, it would have been a ‘kind’ directive but this obviously was to send me away from the work I had been diligently doing well for > 2 hrs. I went, of course. Dont know how fraudsters made out cuz I was Directed to go ! and I did.

In aud I found other needed unassigned work to do, people to admire both volunteers and eaters and singers and disabled, etc. Loved them all and learned, enjoyed and in my creative style, worked continuously being helpful in undefined by organization ways. Suddenly one of the head /headphoned men I had watched stressed and directing others,  came to me and asked in a strong suspicious and distrustful tone/manner “did you have a problem with a volunteer?” and I said “no” tried to give 1 sentence which I did not get to complete before he said “OK” and stomped away.

 I felt accused, misunderstood, reprimanded and under appreciated, even if only by 2 fancy organizers I did not know nor do more than observe up to that point in their stress & work.  What someone said or thought or assumed that was bad about me or my work or attitude or whatever hurts [in my imagination, because I do not know what was said or thought or repeated or believed]. It bothers me still, tho I can wonder about stresses, impatience, false assumptions, and the need to make someone like me ‘wrong’ and ‘not OK’ in their own ways/ needs/ eyes. whatever…

in the aud everyone else there was fabulous ! I loved and brag everywhere about the many many volunteers, their clear caring, wanting to be helpful attitude that permeated the whole hall and each one of those wonderful people of all kinds and types worked continually with a smile and serving spirit. One of those was  a gorgeous friendly young woman, being a maitre de at Table 8 whom I stood with briefly and thus I helped a couple of disabled at her table.  Others also working serving food, et al were attentive, kind, “present” and glad to be there. As was I.

Standing near the chorus singing so gleefully, I could not help but stepping & gyrating to the great rhythms and loving the music, especially the man who came out saying “this is not a church…YOU are the church…every one of you”  what I call spiritual and genuine and non-propagandistic goodwill. Loved it.
[I saw him again later when leaving at same time and told him he looked like another hero of mine called Dammion Brinkley who has had serious NDE experiences and written books about it.]

Then noticing that there were barricaded lines for the clothing areas and when I saw that they separated by gender and no one coming in knew or had a sign to indicate which side to enter thru, I stood there and with my Spanish I also loved informing people of which side had what and thus made contact with many who listened and found themselves in the preferred place. That was also a fun job that was “found”, a need to be fulfilled, until I saw a woman I have long known who is further ‘down and out’ again and having a domestic violence relationship. Sat with her for 20″ and counseled, as she takes and fully understands me and what I do anywhere anytime, if the opportunity arises, sharing info and resources..

We talked, laughed, I ate pumpkin pie with real whip cream served by beautiful children – so beautiful ! – and so good too. Spilled milk at my end of the table was cleaned up by harmonizing-singer who was dedicatedly serving beverages with a “Masters of Harmony” t shirt, another marvelous person who was there to do Anything needed, w/o instructions.  We spoke, I offered suggestions, he followed thru,brought new dry paper so others could use table w/o getting wet sleeves. I loved who he was and what he too could do..work as a team…do what was needed at any moment…smile and love it.

A plain simple unassuming man with a paper badge  smiled when I asked him if he need an assignment when I was at the front, and said he was one of the organizers…I would like to be in touch with him via email if that is possible….to appreciate who and how he was…so casually unassuming and also genuine There….he also spoke at the opening prayer, but I do not know who he is or what else he does. I was impressed with his ability to be watchful, present and overseeing while helpful w/o giving away his organizer-identity. I could not have guessed his position. 

After mid afternoon

 I was fully fatigued from the constant even if enjoyable energy passed around between everyone who was there. I had to leave, and spent the next few days reflecting, remembering, enjoying and questioning what else I had learned or seen at this fabulous event.

Note I had only found out about this thanks-giving even by googling on just the previous Sat nite – because the only volunteer free thanksgiving listed in LA was downtown Mission at 6 am and I’ve done that before. Nothing else was listed !  So I searched SM and found this website…tho I could not discern WHO all were doing the event other than a long clumped listing of orgs. I still dont know.

Later some homeless-like friends in Venice informed me that this has been in existence for many years and I sent someone at last minute back there for a badly needed haircut. He was delighted and impressed with hair cutter who so willingly did the service he needed at the very last minute and came back looking much more  handsome and groomed. I teased him and continue to do so.

Too bad I never got to see all the services I did not know existed….I had seen uniformed medical staff come thru for volunteer refreshments, I saw a few big males with “security” labels on their  badges, but there was so much more I missed and did not know was also ‘served’.

Today googling again, I still cannot find the whole story..and wonder how others found out what all was available, was there a brochure, flyer listing it all ?    I never saw or heard of anything other than hearsay, and my ‘coincidental’ finding the website that provides condensed and ltd info. Was there more ?

also I am curious, were the headsetted organizers paid staff ? And from where?Who was in charge of the organization overall, or aspects of it ? even on my favorite place, Google, I could not find out anything ! why is that ?  If anyone knows more than I could find out, please share a comment with factual infomation for the rest of us.

I am delighted to have found the place, the people, the attitude of so many [strange that just a very few can make such a bad impact in spite of the soooo many more who were just the opposite]  people who came ‘just to volunteer’.
Many of us met, for just that moment, in recognition and appreciation of what we were doing, who we were there together, and grateful for that opportunity and skill of finding this place, time, event.

I would like to thank more people who worked beforehand or even at event and if that is possible, anyone reading here – please let me know.

I have been bragging about how well run and how  many volunteers came ever since Thanksgiving 11/25/2010.  I am impressed overall and grateful to have been the small but fun part of it all.

 I cannot find any articles that must be printed on this grand giving of so much to so many. Can you direct me to any of these ?

  thank all of  who we were there then, even now.

(C) maryjanie 2010

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