This weekend is our 3 year anniversary!
Every 1st Saturday of the month, friends and neighbors get together in San Diego.
They are a wide range of ages and come from all types of backgrounds.
They represent many spiritual traditions, but come together under a banner of service and love.
â€œWeâ€™re just good people doing good things,â€ they say.
They collect donated clothes. They make sandwiches & cookies. They assemble care packs filled with toiletries and comfort goods.
And once a month they set up a street boutique to distribute these things to the resource-limited members of the community.
It is less an act of social change, and more a gesture of interconnectedness.
In a world that often pushes us to feel separate and act selfishly, 1st Saturdays reminds us that the deepest joy comes from sharing joy. And that the world can be as loving and compassionate as you make it.
Sometimes the best way to get happier, is to make someone else happier.
Join 1st Saturdays in San Diego, or start up a monthly event in your town.
â€œ1st Saturdays: Good people doing good thingsâ€
Txt. â€Check out 1stSaturdays.org for more information.â€
What 1st Saturdays is for me.
It is a recalibration. It is a reminder of who I am and how blessed I am. It is a reminder of the kind of world I want to live in.
I am reminded to be thankful for what I have.
Thankful for the love in my life.
Thankful for the people I meet along my journey.
I am reminded that I am an integrated part of this Universe.
And that no matter how seperate I may think I am – due to my ego mind or our crazy media culture – that I am connected to everything.
If you are more Joyful, then I am more joyful.
If I am more Joyful, then the whole is more joyful.
We are all connected. And we are all on the same team.
From our cultural state of near-obscene abundance, it can feel like we are maxed out on Joy potential.
We try to get newer phones, bigger TVs and nicer cars. We strategize for more bank account security for imagined futures.
But when we remember that we are connected, even our discarded excess can bring us more joy than shiny new things – simply by sharing with someone in need.
My extra resources, like some old coats or $10 bills, can do far more to make my experience more enjoyable if I can share them with someone who could use them.
From the perspective of universal connection, It is a selfish act.
Your Joy is my Joy.
So we come together every 1st Saturday to remind ourselves that we are connected. That we are abundant. And that the world we live in is one filled with open-hearted people who help remind us of our true selves:
We are amazing creatures in a miraculous place. We are blessed beyond measure and gifted with a consciousness that rockets us out of the cyclic violence of nature into the potential of divine compassion.
We are not here to survive. We are here to Thrive. To Appreciate. To Create. And to Love.
1st Saturdays reminds me of that.
Last weekend was an AMAZING gathering for 1st Saturdays/ Help The Homeless! We had 85 volunteers, tons of donations, a wedding, and my mom even participated!
Here is a draft of the narrative we are submitting for 1stSaturday’s Non-profit status. Feedback welcome!
NARRATIVE: 1st Saturdays
On the 1st Saturday of February 2010, two high school classmates got together on a whim to provide clothing and toiletries to San Diego homeless. They had reunited at their 20 year High School reunion and, despite their vastly different religious backgrounds, realized that their beliefs overlapped in the area of service, community, & compassion.
They shared the rewarding experience via online social networks and quickly had dozens of friends and neighbors lining up to help volunteer. The group called itself â€œ1st Saturdaysâ€ and was formed for exclusively charitable and educational purposes.
The goal of 1st Saturdays is to provide a non-religious service opportunity for the San Diego community while providing clothing, toiletries and other necessities to the local homeless population. Each monthly outing consists of 30-80 volunteers who first collect and organize clothing donations, create toiletry care packs, and then carpool to downtown San Diego locations where the need is greatest. Menâ€™s and Womenâ€™s clothing is collected from the community all month. In recent months 1st Saturdays has met and organized donations by gender & clothing type at the downtown Prosperity Hive (www.prosperity-hive.com) before heading out into the streets. A row of folding tables is set up in parking lots or on the sidewalk so that the clothing is presented like a mobile â€œstreet boutique.â€ The goal is to create a dignified â€œshoppingâ€ experience and provide San Diego homeless with items they need.
The care packs consist of new toiletries, hygiene items like soap, toothpaste, Band-Aids, clean socks, and more. Most items are purchased in bulk from hotel supply stores and then assembled into care-packs by volunteers. Quantities of items provided vary based on what volunteers are able to purchase, but generally between 100 and 300 packs a month are distributed. Care packs are distributed alongside the clothing tables, or handed out via â€œdrive-bysâ€ to less mobile individuals.
According to the Regional Task Force on The Homeless for San Diego County, current numbers estimate that more 8500 people are Homeless in San Diego (http://www.rtfhsd.org). The needs among this group for warm clothes, basic hygiene products, and a friendly ear are massive. However, even small efforts have big impact among those helped…and those helping.
In addition to the physical transfer of donated goods, the goal of 1st Saturdays is to break down the cultural walls between economically distant local communities. The group provides outreach opportunities for San Diegans to meet, interact, and support their homeless brothers and sisters. Much care is taken to create an uplifting and community-building experience for both volunteers and homeless. Conversation, smiles, and words of connection are encouraged. While it is certainly nice to feed someone for a day, and even better to treat that person with dignity, it is the changes that happen in our volunteers that are perhaps the most significant. The food, clothes, and care-packs are in many ways simply the excuse we use to allow disparate San Diego communities to spend time together and be reminded of our connection as a human family. When someone starts to see themselves as “a person who helps,” it can be a transformative and world changing shift. We consider conversations as important as donations & hope to change the way volunteers see themselves in relation to the disadvantaged, and society.
What began as a 1-time whim has become a thriving monthly tradition entering its 3rd year. The number of volunteers continues to increase, and the organization is ready to move to the next level. With non-profit status, 1st Saturdays would seek additional funding through grants and additional donors. The organization hopes that it can grow in the number of volunteers we can support, homeless we can help, and goods we can distribute. By doing so we can reduce the burden on existing government programs while helping needy individuals and educating volunteers.
OB Rag Article: â€œSocks for the Homelessâ€ (http://obrag.org/?p=25663)
San Diego Citybeat Article: â€œOnline Intimacy.â€ (http://www.sdcitybeat.com/sandiego/article-8644-online-intimacy.html)
Photos from Recent Outings.
Videos from Recent Outings. (online at www.1stsaturdays.org.)
Printout of recent â€œFacebook Eventâ€ for 1stSaturdays. (http://www.facebook.com/events/182532865179175/)
Facebook Organizing Page (online: http://www.Facebook.com/HelpTheHomeless.)
A crew from the “Blast” Girls Soccer Team joined us this month!
Yesterday 25 people showed up to volunteer and “Help The Homeless.” When I mentioned that we incurred some extra costs this month, $125 quickly spilled forth from the crowd who had already spent many hours and their own money to bring sandwiches, contribute to care packs, and donate their old clothes.
This was in addition to the people who volunteered the night before to organize the U-haul full of donated clothes. (Yes, we had so many donation during December that we had to rent a Uhaul in addition to the Hugmobile and Jason’s truck.) And these were not just beat up old t-shirts. We had LOTS of new blankets, several sleeping bags, and tons of jackets.
Plus hundreds of sandwiches & nearly 300 care-packs (THANK YOU to everyone who donated! We are out of most bulk supplies, so expect a gentle request for extra $ soon.)
Every single item was given to us as a gesture of compassion.
Every single item was passed on to someone in need with compassion.
We visited the Alpha Project Winter Shelter, The 17th street day shelter, 2 bridge underpasses and several street corners. You certainly see a diverse scope of needs between all those groups.
When we set up at the Alpha project, we had so many clothes that we were able to set up a sort of temperary boutique. Each resident was able to “shop” for items they could use in their size..and that they actually wanted. Despite the old saying, it is nice to allow beggers to be choosers.
There was no judgement or pity – it was a day filled with Love and connection.
Several people report that they are energized by the 1st Saturdays outings. Personally I feel exhausted afterward – like a many-hour adrenalin rush finally releases me and I nearly collapse.
When I finished giving farewell hugs and waved goodbye (until next 1st Saturday), I came inside to learn about the shooting of 6 people in Arizona.
It felt like walking away from a campfire into the cold, dark night.
It is hard not to be frustrated. Ashamed. Angry.
And there is nothing wrong with those feelings – as long as we don’t live in them.
There is always space for Hope. There is always room for Love.
And during times like these, it is even more critical to remember this.
When the news fills with darkness, it is even more important to look for – and create – light.
No matter how much darkness and vileness humanity may be responsible for – we are the only ones in control over the vibration of our heart.
I send out endless love this day to all who are in pain. To all who are angry. I send love to those who call for violence. I send love to those who are so confused that they do not know the Love that surrounds them in every moment.
Yesterday I was confused, too.
The world was too dark.
In times like these, sometimes you need to limit the scope of the “world.”
“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”–Buddha
Sometimes you need to turn off the news and focus on the faces in your real life. Sometimes you need to focus on even the smallest of steps that you can make, personally, towards love and compassion. Maybe its a “smile and good morning” to a neighbor walking by. “Being the change” is small acts, too.
Of course, there is no such thing as small acts.
I don’t profess to understand the intricacies of politics or have any systemic solutions. But I do know that making a friend out of a stranger is a good thing. So is giving a sandwich to someone who is hungry. So is giving warmth to someone who is cold.
And so instead of dwelling in the frustration of the day, I have decided to focus on light…and warmth.
I want to give away 100 sleeping bags to people who are sleeping in the cold.
I think we can do it with $2500. (example of $25 bag)
I’d also like to explore the possibility of getting damaged bags donated by REI or a manufacturer. Plus, any used bags that we can get donated.
Want to help? Spread the word, collect $, Ask around. (Kickstarter campaign starting soon.)
Or simply spread warmth in YOUR world.
The world can be cold. But people like you and I can make it a little bit warmer. There are no small acts.
Jan. 9. 2011
Here’s a stocking stuffer idea that is good for the heart AND doesn’t require a trip to the mall:
Donate $3 (to email@example.com) and print out this coupon saying a carepack was given to the homeless on your behalf:
click to view full size for printing
The care packs in action:
Inspired by Grandpa Caleb & Heifer.org:
Lots of smiles and sunshine this November as we delivered care packs, sandwiches, clothes, and LOVE.
songs: “Under Pressure” Bowie & Queen + “Give Love” by MC Yogi