These are tearful times at Fishline. Not so much because we're sad - no, these are a different type of tears. They are the kind that Edgar Allen Poe most certainly had been thinking about when he wrote, "Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.”
These are tears of joy that come by being a part of beauty, of kindness, of compassion beyond words. What invokes this kind of response is often spontaneous, freeing and even surprising. But it is a reaction that can be uplifting. We seem hardwired to want to feel these feelings, to witness some sort of proof of goodness and generosity in a world so often filled with bad news and reasons to worry.
Watching the progress we are making on readying our new food bank, the efforts and contributions of volunteers and contractors coming together to turn an abandoned RV dealership into a warm, respectful promise of better times for struggling neighbors, has had an impact upon us all. Staff, volunteers and other community members are feeling renewed and inspired by the way it is all coming together.
During a recent open house, when we invited clients to see our new facility, many were obviously experiencing awe and relief. Knowing that we were willing to take on this project to make things easier and more dignified for them brought authentic tears of gladness and gratitude.
One senior said, through his tears, "I've lived all my life taking care of myself and my family. There was a time when we were well off. But now, I'm 86 years old, my income is barely enough, and I couldn't afford food without Fishline. I am so thankful." Another woman, who is a home health care aid and shops for herself and her patient, said "I have always known that Fishline cares about me, about all of us. But this is such a better situation for us, we can park and shop whenever we need to, it is just beautiful."
When almost overwhelmed with generosity, the human instinct is to want to do something, find some way, to return the favor. One of the clients viewing our new space during the open house looked around and said, almost as a whisper to be overheard, "You're going to need painters. I'm a painter. Let me help." This client will join other members of our community offering their support, working side-by-side to help write the next chapter in Fishline's history.
We are humbled by the way so many have come forward to offer their labor, their donations and their support. But we are reminded by these donors that they receive a great gift by helping, a feeling of satisfaction like no other. When a donor recently came in with a year-end check, she toured the food bank and, by the end of the tour, her face was streaming with tears. To know that Fishline's services are offered with such respect for our client experience deeply affected her. It made her feel proud to have contributed to it - rightly so, because Fishline only offers what donors and supporters make possible.
We live in a world that can be confusing. In our hearts, we know there must be a way to assure a safe community where everyone has enough. We are frustrated when we hear that this is not always the case. But moments come in the darkest times, almost as if to remind us that along with that darkness is great potential for love, for hope and for the kind of tears that wash away fear. These are the pillars that hold up the house of Fishline, helping make our community a beauty of supreme development.