Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why We Do This and Who We Are

We feel that it's probably time to reiterate why we started this community organization and to try and spread our message of hope and community once again.

We started this group, originally, to give every unemployed person a chance to get out into their communities and help their neighbors to try and gain some of the self-respect and self-worth that has been taken from them since losing their job. We know from first hand experience how devastating losing your job can be.

These rough economic times are not just hard on the people that lose their job. It's also hard on the community. Imagine, you lose your job and now there is little or no money coming into the household. Now imagine, your roof starts leaking or your sink backs up. Now, not only do you have a potential emergency on your hands, but you have no money to hire someone to fix it. That's why our mission was to offer anyone help, of any kind. From fixing a broken fence to putting on a new roof. From replacing an outlet to helping with yard work. Whatever the task, we wanted to assist anyone who asked for help.

Everyone, every single person out there, needs some help sometimes. Sometimes you need a lot of help, but, sometimes you just need a hand pulling yourself up. We want to be a group that people can turn to when the feel out of hope or when they feel that there is no one out there that is willing or able to help them.

We want to change the way people think about giving their time to help someone else. We don't want people to see it as "volunteering". Instead, we wish people would try to see it as "Neighboring". When you help a friend or a neighbor out, you don't say "I'm going next door to volunteer by mowing Joe's yard". What you say is "I'm going next door to help Joe out with his yard". You don't "volunteer" your time to help family, friends or neighbors. "Volunteering" your time takes the human element completely out of what you are doing. You are a human being lending a hand out to another human being that needs some help. It's that simple.

It may sound kind of corny, but when you go out and give someone a little bit of your time, you are helping yourself far more than you are helping them. Both of us can tell you from personal experience that after getting back from a project, even if we are tired and sore, that our self-worth is through the roof. We get home, look at each other, and say "we just helped someone through a rough spot in their lives. How cool is that"? There are no words to describe how good we feel inside.

The reported unemployment rate in Oregon is reported at 12.1 percent. But keep in mind, this figure does not include people whose unemployment has run out, who aren't eligible, who never applied, or their application for benefits is delayed. We think that the actual rate is somewhere around the 20 percent mark. 1 out of every 5 people is unemployed. Incredible.

Oregon's population is about 3,800,000 people. Imagine if even half of the unemployed people in this state offered to volunteer 1 hour, once a week. That would be 1,900,000 hours of neighbors helping neighbors every, single week. Can you imagine the good that could be done with that? What tasks could be accomplished? There are only 8,760 hours in a year. That's over 216 years worth of community work that could get done in a week's time. It almost doesn't even compute.

Please come with us on this journey. This journey to change how people see their communities and how they view one another. This is an incredible time to be alive. We have so much power to change not only the lives of others, but our own, as well. There are so many people in need right now and there are so many people that could help them. All you have to do is reach out once. We promise that after helping someone, you will start to notice that you feel better and that you are starting to see that we are all just neighbors. All across your community, your city or town, your state, your country, and your world. We are all just neighbors.

Take care and we hope to hear from a lot of you,

Seth and Michelle

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