Almost two weeks have passed since our Volunteer Day in New Orleans. I just wanted to publicly acknowledge one more individual who recognizes that there is no “I” in team. As assignments were being doled out and the day was drawing closer, I recognized that my Volunteer Day would be pretty busy, with assuring that each work site was ready for us, waiver forms were in place, the bus was on the way, the volunteers were assembled, the water, snacks, and lunch was poised for delivery. and directions were appropriately provided. But there was one task yet to be properly assigned. Who was going to get the food at Parkway Bakery? Who was going to deliver the Po Boy sandwiches to the hungry workers?
Hmmmm? Do I ask DRI International President Al Berman to do this? He really wanted to be a worker and signed up to work at both sites. Hmmmm? So, what the heck … I asked him. “Can you pick up the food and deliver it?” I asked. Not one pickup, but two. First pickup, for the team assembling at the hotel getting ready to go the Second Harvest at 11 a.m.; and then again at noon for the food to be delivered to the Habitat work site. Al’s response; “Sure, just tell me where you want me to go and what you want me to do.” Al, with capable and willing assistant Jerome Ryan, came through – lunches were picked up and delivered, extra sunscreen purchased, a supply of much-needed Gatorade was provided, and a last-minute dash to CVS made for paper plates and cutlery (as the restaurant failed to provide them with the first pickup).
As the first lunch group gathered in the street of the Roosevelt Hotel, Al, Jerome, my wife Lorraine, and I helped set up our “buffet” line (in the trunks of our rental cars) and get everyone their lunch. We even provided sandwiches to our bus driver, Charles, the valet parking guys, and a homeless man who happened by as we got set to serve. He now proudly carries a DRI Foundation bag for his necessary belongings. So, there we were an eager work team eating our delicious (but messy) Po Boy sandwiches on the steps of the Waldorf Astoria’s Roosevelt Hotel. Ha! It was great. So back to our delivery guys … the top two officers of the Disaster Recovery Institute International were happily joining in the Volunteer Day effort by delivering and serving the lunches. Thank you, Al and Jerome. We do appreciate it.
The story gets better. As we finished our lunch at the Habitat site an ice cream truck drove by. One of the volunteers screamed for him to stop. Little by little, the now very hot (it was 90+ degrees and very humid that day) volunteers wandered over to get an ice cream. Al promptly invited all for this much-needed cold desert. Before you knew it Al was making sure that the volunteers had ice cream and even invited some neighborhood children over for ice cream. As Al and I laughed and high-fived at this most spontaneous event, our volunteers enjoyed their much deserved treat.
When ice cream was done and work was to resume, Al then became chauffeur as two women working at the site needed to go back to the hotel. Al’s acts of kindness were indicative of the work of all the volunteers. Each volunteer worked hard, had a few laughs, and gave selflessly to the Volunteer Day. The only motivation was to work hard and help out those in need. What could be better?
And one final word of appreciation … thank you Al and the boards of both the Institute and the Foundation for giving me the opportunity to chair the Volunteer Day committee and help to coordinate the activities of the day. Thank you. I appreciate the vote of confidence and I am most thankful for allowing me to provide a means to give back to New Orleans.
Disaster Recovery International Foundation
Director of Volunteerism and Vice President
p.s. We hope to make the Volunteer Day an annual event, but in between it is our hope to provide BCP guidance and community service as appropriate where ever the need arises.