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  • 1.  How Taking Care Of A Community Fridge Helped Me Learn To Care For Myself

    Posted 07-23-2021 08:39

    I read and really enjoyed this article on HuffPost this morning: How Taking Care Of A Community Fridge Helped Me Learn To Care For Myself. (Does anyone have a community fridge in their neighborhood or area? I've seen a few pop up, but none exactly around me.) 

    Here's are the bits I liked most: 

    What I've learned is that if you ask for help, people will come. We have over 900 volunteers that will come clean a fridge at a moment's notice. People who spend their evenings bringing hundreds of pounds of rescued food from grocery store to fridge. When I volunteer for a task in a team meeting, there is always someone there to offer support if I need it.

    The fridges also taught me about boundaries. I can't jump in at every moment, even though I'd like to. I can't help everyone who asks for it all at once. I've learned that I have to slow down and take a moment to figure out the best way to continue, not the quickest. I've started to carry that into everything else in my life. I'm no longer overbooking myself, pushing my body until I am too exhausted to continue. I am no longer burning out.

    I've also learned that so much of our scarcity mindset is conditioned. The reality is that there is plenty to go around. This goes for food, money, even emotional capacity. The key is finding it and then sharing it.

    I love pulling lessons from life experiences, but admittedly it takes extra time and a commitment to #reflection. As a volunteer for the Illinois Brewery Running Series, I've learned that a little extra energy goes a long way. That asking people, "is this your first time running with us?" and then saying, "welcome! glad to have you here!" or "Welcome! Glad to have you back!" helps to give folx a little more bounce to their step. We stand at the finish until the last runner/walker/crawler comes on through with as much energy as the first because we want everyone to feel the same sense of accomplishment. Helping others feel good helps me feel good. 

    What have you learned recently through your experiences? Anything surprising?


    Stay awesome,

  • 2.  RE: How Taking Care Of A Community Fridge Helped Me Learn To Care For Myself

    Posted 07-30-2021 17:20
    @Quinn Drew that is such a great article​! We often think of volunteering as a one-way street, and it's absolutely beneficial both ways!

    I volunteer with a support group for family members of people with mental illness, alcoholism, addiction, and other troubling and disruptive conditions. Parents whose children are severely depressed. Spouses of alcoholics. Siblings of addicts. When someone new joins the group, I'm often paired up to give them an overview of the support offered, point them to resources, and just listen. Many of these people have lived with their loved one's condition for years before seeking support for themselves, and for them to ask for help is a big deal.

    I have a lot of good information to give these people, but I always walk away having learned something profound from them. Each interaction is a deep connection because these people are living life in the raw, and they are trusting their story with me. They are resilient, creative, hopeful, and exhausted, all at the same time!

    I have learned that true connection can happen instantly when both sides are open, vulnerable, and ready to accept help. Instead of going into these conversations thinking I have all the answers for them, I've learned to stay curious about what they have to teach me. With all they've been through, they have life lessons that can be applicable to any situation. 

    These people are appreciative of the information I can give them, as well as my listening ear. And I come away with the nuggets of wisdom they have gained--quite a bargain!

    I'd love to hear from others about how volunteering has benefitted you personally...maybe @Mhari Goldstein @Nicole Daines @Elisa Meggs have something to share?​​​​

    Maria Liccardo

  • 3.  RE: How Taking Care Of A Community Fridge Helped Me Learn To Care For Myself

    Posted 08-04-2021 09:29
    @Quinn Drew - thanks for sharing this article. There is a subtle theme throughout this story that really resonates with me: the author's ability to listen and observe what the community really needs. Yes, it's obvious that they need food, but she was able to take it to the next level and really hear what they wanted.

    "While at these fridges, I met the folks that frequented them. I learned what neighborhoods preferred prepared meals because they had no kitchens to cook on their own. I learned which vegetables were preferred where."

    Her willingness to take the extra effort to get to know people is a game changer. Just like you Quinn, introducing yourself to new runners. It's a small act that has a huge impact.

    @Maria Liccardo I love that one of your primary responsibilities is to "just listen". It's a skill that I feel like is being lost. The world is moving too fast and while you may be listening, are you really hearing what the other person is saying? It sounds like you are - keep collecting those nuggets of wisdom!

    Finally, I loved this line: "Trash can after trash can gets stolen? Totally fine, that just means someone else needs them, too." If I were running this program and things were being stolen, I guarantee that I would be upset about it. To take a moment and ask why the garbage cans are being stolen is not something I would have thought to do. Again, the author is able to take a step back and ask what the community really needs - it's not something that every person or company is able to do well and it makes such a difference. I am going to incorporate this lesson of truly focusing on the community and customer needs in my work and personal life. #inspired


    Alison Randall