Today’s event was perfect. Perfect in so many respects. Today, we felt that our impact on the community has a broader and more profound reach than we ever realized before. The story of today’s events starts at the Ramey Market, on November 29th, when we met a kind and enthusiastic man named Luis Cordero. Luis brought his bucket and received a free filter – just like hundreds of people before him have done. But Luis was different; he saw the potential for making an impact on his own community. He wanted to take a leadership role and organize an event for Water Filters for PR at his church in Isabella. “Great! Let’s make it happen!”, I enthusiastically replied after he pitched his idea.
For several weeks, we talked on the phone to ensure the details were in place. With most important detail being – BRING A BUCKET! Our slogan is: We have the filters, you bring the bucket and together we can build healthy communities. Maybe you are wondering why we ask people to bring a bucket? We feel that if people contribute to making the filter, not only are they taking ownership, but they also are making an investment in securing clean water for their family. We give something; they give something, and together we can build healthy communities. But what about sustainability? As former Peace Corps Volunteers, my husband and I understand the importance of sustainability. As teachers, we also understand that we can’t always be the “sage on the stage” but aim to be the “guide on the side.” I think Luis made us realize that we can put the responsibility of organizing events into the hands of community leaders.
With faith and trust, we can give the responsibility to community members, and we can be the guide on the side, who facilitates rather than orchestrates. I believe this is the secret to sustainability.
But is Luis unique in respect to his vision, enthusiasm, and desire to help people in his community? No! There are many people who feel his same passion for community service.
There are many, many, many people in Puerto Rico, ordinary citizens, who choose to do extraordinary things! The news paints a grim picture of this Island devastated by a hurricane, but does the news highlight the heroes who are helping to rebuild, who are helping their communities? With all the sadness and devastation around us, I have never felt a more renewed faith in humanity as I look around and see how extraordinary rises from the ordinary. Like the Phoenix rising so does compassion. Here we are at the brink of the Holiday Season, and I am feeling stressed about buying this gift and that gift and packing for a trip and tying up the loose ends. And at this moment, I realize that we get so bogged down in the details that the joyousness of the season gets lost. But if we can rise above to see the big picture; if we can see that from the ashes of destruction and devastation can rise compassion, unity, and community service; if we can see how ordinary people can become extraordinary community leaders, like Luis Cordero, then not only can we feel confident that our project is sustainable, but we can also be reminded that the true spirit of the Season is about giving – giving back to our communities in time and place of need. And with this in mind, joyousness can fill our hearts.