If there’s ever a moment for you, where you’re overwhelmed with joy, gratitude and a mixture of other emotions as you recognize “this is why I’m on this planet. This is why I’m here,” I hope you relish it and pursue more of it.
For me, that moment started nearly three years ago when I had an opportunity to travel to Ukraine to serve a community of disabled children and adults. The past three summers (2009, 2010, 2011) I’ve returned to re-engage with this community of the most selfless, patient, joyful and loving people I’ve ever met.
People who have special needs in Ukraine are pariahs to society. They’re not welcome. Their interaction with humans outside of their parents or caretaker is at a minimum.
So, for over a decade, an organization called Mission to Ukraine (MTU) has relentlessly pursued the ostracized, provided them with medical resources, physical therapy, financial assistance, and more. They invite these people to summer camps where they will enjoy time spent with people just like them. They’ll have people outside of their immediate families and MTU staff spending time with them for quite possibly the first time all year (maybe the first time in their lives).
So I go to Ukraine with a team of high school students every summer and we share the camp experience with these people.
Through these experiences and more, I’ve come to realize that I experience true joy when I’m around these people. I get a glimpse of what real peace looks like. I am reminded that happiness isn’t dependent on chasing the American dream. This trip has become immensely important to me and has made me feel like I’ve discovered a bigger purpose in my life - one that involves helping others and making myself available to causes and movements that are greater than me.
Truthfully, it was what was initially most attractive about joining the team here at SmallBox. SmallBox’s work within the community, the work and events we do for non-profit organizations, and the collective and contagious energy that lives in this team when there’s an opportunity to engage in helping others is something I love and a huge reason I was excited to be a part of this company.
This post is part of Think Kit 2011.