"It’s one in the morning. I just turned off my cell phone, plugged in my iPod, turned on my flat screen TV, cranked up the heat to remove the night chill, opened the fridge for a quick snack, grabbed a bottle of water, and opened my laptop to check my favorite websites. But as I lay here in my bed, wrapped in a blanket, in a house, as my family sleeps, a feeling like none other has come over me, and I realize that the world I was living in for the past ten days has all gone away. I have slipped back into the world we have all become to know and live in all too well.
For the past ten days, I have been on a BonaResponds trip. What is BonaResponds? What kind of world have I been living in? What feeling do I possess which has inspired me to write this down? These questions are all easily answered by me and anyone who was on our most recent BonaResponds trip to Atlanta, Georgia and Greenville, South Carolina. In fact, this feeling can be described by any individual who has ever attended a BonaResponds Trip. It is a feeling that comes over you when you realize that tomorrow you will probably not make a difference in someone’s life. Tomorrow, you will most likely take for granted the objects you possess. Tomorrow, you will most likely slip back into the comfortable world you were living in before this kind of trip. Anyone who has been on a BonaResponds trip in the past knows exactly what I mean and how I feel. It is almost as if you are in a completely different world.
For a BonaResponds trip is like none other; it is an opportunity to help. This world that I speak so highly of is full of friendship, care, respect, gratitude, hope, understanding, and listening. The list can go on and on describing a world in which laughter fills the air, love fills the soul, and the want to help others is so prevalent in the air around you that it is an inspiration to help, especially to those who cross your path. BonaResponds opens the very doors to this ideal world. I have been there as many others have as well; it is without a doubt a group that will leave an impact on your life.
But as I lay here, I realize that tomorrow I will no longer be a part of that world. This is the feeling I feel so strongly in my heart - a feeling that tomorrow I will slip back into the world that so many of us have come to take for granted. A world in which we live our life without realizing the life we have. Ten minutes before writing this letter, I was in that world. I thought nothing of it to raise the temperature of my beautiful home, eat a snack only because it looked good, plug in and view electronic items that are a luxury to have, and lay in a home with an amazing, healthy, loving family that is sleeping with ease.
Ten minutes before writing this letter I was the same person I am now. I was the same person I was as I helped those in need for the past ten days, and ten minutes after completing my thoughts I will be the same person. So what changes within me? How can I slip back and forth from each world? How do I continue to live in that world where I so desperately wish to be? The answer is simple: nothing changes. Only the opportunity to help is increased and given to me in an easier form to achieve. Someone tells me who I can help, what I can do, and where to do it. “It” is given to me in the morning; I complete “it” in the day, and reflect upon “it” at night. So, if “it” is the opportunity to help, why will tomorrow be different? It doesn’t have to be.
I can help someone tomorrow, I can impact a life tomorrow, I can make a difference tomorrow, and so can you. I may not receive a name, an address, and a job list, but I will receive the ability to help and the desire to help. And if you live your life with the ability and want to help, you will find a way to help; I promise you. We all possess the want to help, love, care, understand, listen, and appreciate. We just have to put ourselves in a position to find it and use it. BonaResponds gives us that opportunity day in and day out, but it does not have to stop when the trip ends.
So do it. I will tomorrow. I will wake up in the morning and try to help someone. I will volunteer tomorrow. I don’t have to build a house, or clean an entire park, but volunteering is helping others, and I will volunteer tomorrow and help someone tomorrow. It is as simple as that. Should the opportunity arise to help someone tremendously in a way that impacts a life greatly, I will take advantage of it. But if I simply hold the door for a lady, or offer to help carry a grocery bag to her car, or shovel a neighbor’s driveway, I will do it. These acts and many others are considered helping others and helping others is considered volunteering; volunteering is the door to the world of a BonaResponds trip. To volunteer or help is the way to pass through that door and enter that world. It is your choice to enter or not.
After writing my thoughts down to you, these feelings that I am no longer part of the BonaResponds world are gone. I am excited to wake up in the morning, to help someone, to bring joy and a smile to someone, and maybe inspire that someone to help another someone. You never know who you may help. It may make a larger impact in people’s lives than you expect, realize, or will ever know. I promise you one thing though: helping someone will help you.
So, if you have ever been on a BonaResponds trip in the past, or even volunteered with BonaResponds for a day in the past, try to live life tomorrow or even today as if you were part of BonaResponds again. If you have never been a part of BonaResponds, don’t worry. BonaResponds does not possess a secret as to how to help others; BonaResponds just allows the opportunity to help. So, tomorrow, go volunteer, go help, go live your life as if you were on a trip. You will be glad you did.Rob Ryer"
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Rob's perspective on the trip
Rob is a student leader of BonaResponds. Few people understand what it means to volunteer better than he does. He is a motivator, an incredibly hard worker, and a friend. Here is how he summed up what the trip meant to him and how he is going to deal with that feeling of sadness that affects most volunteers after the trip is over: