Saturday, August 4, 2012

Work for a Cause

I have asked this question to myself so many times in past and probably will ask this so many times again in future. What have you done today that was not for yourself but for the community, for the people and for some good cause with no self interest in it? 99% of the times, there is no answer to the question.Thanks to one of my co-workers at office, today I had an answer in real sense.

It was a wonderful experience and an awesome feeling after spending 4 hours with a team of people who are down to earth, experienced in Life and have had faced numerous challenges and ups and downs and not to mention, older than me in every sense.

This morning when I woke up, I knew it would be a different day. I was little nervous and a little shy about the fact that I didn't know how I was going to do what I was going to do. Although, I am pretty comfortable in what I was going to do when I am alone and in my own environment but this was going to be an experience of Lifetime and sure it was, a worth learning curve that will be of use for the rest of my life.

I was to be at the Department of Children's and Family Services (DCFS) in Elgin at 10:00 AM as a volunteer for painting the main room. I was excited because I was expanding my scope from small brushes to rollers and professional tools and from canvases to walls but at the same time I was nervous because I had never done this kind of work. Well, first of all, I never got the chance to do this kind of work because in India, labor is cheap and easily available and secondly, I never had this kind of attitude of doing these kinds of jobs by myself because there we always have someone for something and that something is not for you because you have something else to do.

So I woke up the same time as I do on Saturdays, did my morning chores, had my tea and took a quick shower. For a change, I didn't have to think twice today for what to wear because I had to be in something that's good to be wasted. As usual, I don't like to be late, so I started from my home at 9:30 AM and was at the DMV (the office where you get driving license in US). I didn't know if DCFS was inside DMV or around DMV, so called my co-worker, Christine, to ask her if I am at the right place or need to drive somewhere else. I was at the right place so found a place for my car and parked it. Within minutes, Christine and her team from the Church was there who work as volunteers for various kinds of projects.

I was quickly introduced to all the members and it didn't take me more than a minute to get comfortable with all of them. I sometimes wonder, if I am an old soul in a young body. Chris unloaded the painting material from her car and I picked the bucket full of rollers and tools and walked upstairs on the 2nd floor (1st floor per Asians). We walked through the aisles of DMV to the elevator and as I was walking, I recalled the day when I came to this DMV for my License test back in November 2007. It was a short walk in the lobby upstairs and at the end was DCFS. The outer room was to be left as it is but the main inner room was to be completely washed off and painted.

Doug was the Project Manager for this so he explained us all what needs to be done. His wife (sorry, forgot her name) after knowing that I am an artist too, showed me on her iPad all the things that they have planned for renovating the room. The theme for the room is of a Castle and all graphic, character paint work will be done by Tracy who will be working later in the week. So as every member came in and brought all the material, rugs were laid down on the floor and we all stood in a circle holding each others hands for a prayer. I had an intuition about this and I really wished while I was driving to this place to have this prayer because I wanted to see and feel Christian culture (we do the same in almost all religions in India) and I was glad that the work started this way. As soon as the prayer was done, we picked up our rollers, filled the trays with yellow paint and Doug assigned tasks and areas to every one. He took the higher painting job and the ladder to climb and I was given the job to paint as high as I can (up to 7ft high). Roberta had brush to fill up the corners and holes that rollers failed to paint and Chris took the rollers and concrete walls. After a quick brief lesson of how and what to do, I was all set to paint the walls (dry wall and concrete wall). Though, I will admit, I didn't feel like painting one side of wall because it already had very nice work done with dolphins and ocean, but had no choice. The order was to paint all the walls with the base color to provide Tracy (Pat Grace Green's daughter) a clean slate for her graphic work. The 1st coating took time and almost 2 gallon of paint was used but was done pretty neat. All nooks and corners were painted with thin brushes. We waited for the 1st coat to dry and as soon as the walls were dried, 2nd coat was applied. 2nd coating didn't take much time or effort, it was quick and smooth and by the time we were done, all 3 gallons of paint was used up to the last drop.

In the meantime, other ladies who were not painting cleaned up the outer room and setup the table for the lunch. We all cleaned ourselves and stood by the table as Doug said the Grace (prayer before the meal) and we all filled our stomachs. There was a lot of food from ham and turkey sandwiches to home made salsa by "Pat Grace" to watermelon, grapes, chips, cookies, soda and juices. I couldn't eat the sandwiches but salsa, grapes and watermelon was more than enough at that time of the hour. Finally, the work was done and I took permission and bid goodbye to all the members.

Other team members would be working for rest of the week that includes tiling on the floor, setting up the castle and furniture, 3rd coat of paint to match the castle walls, drapery, cushions (Doug's wife is sewing them herself), cabinetry and tables and toys. Once all that will be done, the room will be ready again for the foster kids to meet their care takers or parents who are in custody or situation because of which they cannot stay together.

A day worth spent....Here are some pictures.
(Doug explaining what to do, Lois in white)
(Face front: Roberta  Back: Janette)
(Christine caught in action..Chris told me not to publish this picture in office newsletter)
(Joined by Gary later on during 2nd coat)
(Oooo the tasty food)
(Janette and Helda. Helda works at DCSF and is retiring on 16th)



AnjuGandhi said...

wow what a productive and satisfying day. very few are lucky to do something which gives them satisfaction and sense of achievement. it is said " one's own work every one does but to do for someone else that too without any monetary gain is real work." i hope others also feel motivated to do something similar
keep up the good work and continue making us feel proud of you

Poor In Java said...

Thanks...I'll try as much and as long as I can.

ashoksjain said...

There is nothing better than doing some thing for community,
it gives satisfaction and is the real Dharm.

God bless you.
Jai jinendra.

Poor In Java said...

True Pa...nothing better than serving and helping the true needy ones

Tarun said...

jain sabb great job..... try

This is Sahllu didi'd website my cousin. She is a professional wall painter... check it out... might give you some designs

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