OhGo and Help Somebody

I’ve been wanting to write and share this post for some time; however, I have sat on it for fear of it coming off as self-promoting, which diminishes whatever grace I might earn in volunteering in the first place. Actually, it is the last thing I want anyone to take from it. My measly six hours a month of volunteerism with OhGo is an embarrassingly small act of community service. There are sooooooo many others who do sooooooo much more and who are deserving of effusive praise and appreciation for their extensive efforts to serve our community, both through OhGo and other organizations. Besides, the old adage that the far greater reward is in the giving rather than in the receiving has been proven true to me tenfold in my experiences with OhGo.

What has prompted me to finally write this post was a conversation (Okay. Lecture.) I had/gave in my composition classes, during which I shared the characteristics of a well-told story. I pointed to the importance of inspiring empathy in the reader, which led to a discussion of the difference between sympathy and empathy. I pointed out that empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another — is far superior to sympathy, which merely involves feeling bad (Yes, “bad” is correct, not badly.) for others.

I proceeded to climb into my imaginary pulpit and all but preach on the relatively worthless nature of sympathy in general, especially self-pity. Having had to learn to fight my own lifelong proclivity to feel sorry for myself, I spoke from experience on the self-defeating and unattractive nature of that tendency. I shared with them the famous lines from the Ella Wheeler Wilcox poem “Solitude,” which rightly professes, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; // Weep and you weep alone.” For it is true that most people’s pity for others comes with a soon-to-be-reached expiration date. Contrarily, empathy never goes away.

Growing increasingly dramatic, I encouraged my students — rather than feeling sympathy for others who are in sad or desperate straits — to do something to mitigate those folks’ suffering. For sympathy has never fed an empty belly, clothed the naked, or provided shelter for the homeless. All of which leads me back to OhGo and the title of this post.

For years, my wife had been encouraging me to join her in volunteering for a local service organization. However, I continuously balked, claiming to have enough on my plate already and dragging out that old, tired saw that “charity begins at home.” Eventually, she began volunteering on her own for OhGo, a multi-faceted, Sandusky area community organization.

Evntually, after employing my own sense of empathy while reflecting on a brief period during my college years when I was homeless and often hungry (a situation that resulted from my own choices and which I’ve shared here before,) for the past year or so, I have joined my wife in aiding OhGo with its bi-monthly, mobile food pantry, which travels to and sets up shop in three different locations in Sandusky. It has proven to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime. I’m positive that my wife would echo that statemnt. The volunteers we “work” with are some of the most humble, kind, and generous people I have ever known, and even though I don’t even know most of their last names, I count them among my dearest friends and favorite people in the world. And the clients we serve are genuinely thankful and gracious.

I’d encourage anyone who reads this who isn’t already volunteering their time to community outreach programs to consider doing so. Without question, financial contributions are great and needed, but unless you are like the poor woman in the Gospel who offered up her last two coins to God, such generosity is of limited reward to the giver’s own sense of contribution to the greater good.

At the end of the day, I hate telling anyone how they should spend their time or live, but if you should be so inclined as to support my personal favorite community organization, OhGo is sponsoring a fundraiser in early October. Trust me. Your contribution will go to a deserving cause and be wisely spent. My wife has attended several of these Empty Bowls with her girlfriends and had a marvelous time every time.

For a complete description of the outreach provided by OhGo, click on the link below.

https://www.ohgoreach.org/

Published by tyfroth

My primary passion and vocation is teaching literature and composition on both the high school and university level. My avocation is writing novels that explore contemporary themes/issues relevant to both young adult and adult readers.

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