Resolutions tend to be as mis-guided as they are well-meaning. So, how does one set goals that outlive the initial inspiration or achieve sustainability? (A goal for 2013 is to find a replacement word for sustainable; I feel it has been beat to death.) That is the 9.4 million dollar question that I pondered today as I drove to the Three Square warehouse and volunteer facilities in North Las Vegas.
The first thing I noticed were the date palms dropping delicious edible dates on the sidewalk in front of the main entrance. Ha! Inside the impressively massive facilities, I met Michael, a volunteer and friend of Great Basin Permaculture, and Robin, my mom. Michael is familiar with the space as he volunteers regularly there as a cook, so he led us on a tour of the warehouse full of boxes big enough to park a Fiat in, the kitchen where the hot meals are prepped, the community room where banquets are held for current and potential sponsors, and the sorting room. The volunteer coordinator, Patti Johnson, greeted us and told us that the $9.4 million facilities were all donated through corporate grant money. At this point I was surrounded by money and food and felt justified in thinking that there is plenty to go around. It's all about directing the energy and resources in the most efficient way. Then, just in time to interrupt my warm fuzzies, we were told by Patti that in order to volunteer, we needed to go online and print out the application. She left us standing under the Hilton Park Sign a tad bewildered. We were willing and able and interested volunteers that had driven from three seperate and distant parts of town to spend a few hours making ourselves useful. Then we met James Ray, who cheerily gave us a printed application and pens. After filling out the applications, he put our information into the volunteers system and showed us to the sorting room. Awesome, that's more like it! The warm fuzzies returned. James showed us the sorting room where donations are, well, sorted. At first, we helped pack 20 lb boxes of snacks. While sorting through the snacks to pack up and send to schools (which, as a teacher, I've handed out to students), I vowed to donate more healthy snacks. I would rejoice at the site of a box of raisins in and amongst the mountain of Jello Snack Packs and cheddar crackers.There were a lot of people already working on this project and they had a good system down, so I felt a bit redundant. The volunteer coordinators noticed and redirected us to sorting. Three Square collects everything, not only canned and dry food goods, but drinks, candy (lots of leftover Halloween candy), clothing, toys, tolietries, glasses, and so on. Three Square is working toward becoming a zero waste facitily by recycling everything recyclable, donating expired food to Gilcrease Animal Sanctuary, and composting food waste with A-1 Organics.
Overall I was impressed at how Three Square runs their organization and manages their volunteer staff. I look forward to spending more time there as a volunteer.
Which brings me back to that 9.4 million dollar question...how to set a goal that will outlive the good intention that inspired it.