Day 1 – a Journey Begins


Left for Peoria early this morning.

Made my way to St. Paul’s Baptist Church which has provided space for donated items for Catholic Charities.

Met Sara from CC, and volunteers from St. Paul’s, and we moved items brought, into a designated area. Items are picked up from here and distributed to locations within Washington where those affected by the tornado can pick up what they need.

First stop: Connected Hearts

Got on the road again, this time heading to the Peoria Civic Center, sort of a command center for Red Cross, organizing the many peoples and logistics of disaster assessment and recovery. Some Red Cross staff, many specialist volunteers.

Second Stop: Connected Hearts

Having signed in as a volunteer, I was given instructions to head directly to Washington, Illinois; to a large facility called a Multi-Agency Resource Center. There, those affected by the tornado can receive many items and services, part of which are from Red Cross.

Clothing, food, cleaning supplies, counseling services, medical services and so much more. All under one roof. A roof still in tact.

There are a number of tasks I can be assigned to do for Red Cross, in this particular case, Client Services-meeting with affected individuals and providing assistance.

There is an ebb and flow to the nature of providing services. Today was an ebb, tomorrow an expected flow.

Flexibility. A word – a mantra with Red Cross.

Service is never idle.

Seek and ye shall find.

Clean tables, empty garbage cans, meet and greet. Say “hi, how are you” to someone, and mean it. And listen. And listen.

Someone asks if I can assist finding and assembing some kits of items for those coming into the Red Cross outreach area.

Someone asks. The Response –

Myself, and a family who came in from southern Illinois to help, without having ever worked together before, or their having done anything like this before, organize and coordinate their individual helping hands, into a force for GOOD?

Braving the chilly weather outside, the logistics of numerous requests made and the lifting and movement of resources to be made available,  each person began the process of recovery.

The recovery which comes from within and is greater than ourselves.

Third Stop: Connected Hearts

While driving around the block of the Civic Center looking for a Red Cross sign which would tell me
I am at the right place; I could not immediately find, so I drove around again.

There, on the curb was an older man, having fallen over from a walker onto the sidewalk, yet still partially in the street. A younger woman was attempting to help him up, but to no avail.

I quickly parked and ran to their aid.

We managed to get him up and onto the sidewalk.

They live about a block from each other and assist each other as they can.

They were heading home from a local church where they receive food items and clothing. Without a cart, their mutual ability to carry and transport their items home was to much to bear,. And they were going to take public transportation, as they normally would.

After loading their belongings in the van, we begin our journey to their home.  They lived about 4 miles away, yet hard to tell with all the construction detours.

We make it to their home, and set their belongings at their door.

Having an address is useful.  A proper cart is sure to find its way.

They shared much in the van. In a quiet, unassuming way. Both have come to live their lives, serving each other in simple, respectful,
meaningingful ways.

Fourth Stop: Connected Hearts

I have often said that the destruction from these disasters that mother nature throws our way, are in themselves so powerful and life changing.

Yet, never, ever strong enough to break Connected Hearts.



The profound journey of compassion


Our journey is nearing , and for you, new beginnings and discoveries, or what you so aptly called Life.

Our paths crossed serendipitously,  and impressed shared travels into the sands of time.

Words will be remembered, which, like songs, will bring to mind memories only distanced by time. Fading into melodies once heard.

Remember this, Remember these words, and all shared –

Salvador Francisco Alaniz
(Swami Dayananda Saraswati:  The profound journey of compassion)