We are a community organization called We've Got Time to Help currently located in Portland, Oregon. However, within just the last month, with a lot of assistance from Arianna Huffington and HuffPost, our visibility has increased a thousandfold. It is a tremendous opportunity for us to share our commitment to change communities all around this country.
Our original intention when we started this group was to gather the unemployed masses together and get out in our communities to make a difference and make it quickly. If Mrs. Jones' roof was leaking, we wanted to be able to start repairing it immediately. If Mr. Brown needed help mowing his lawn, we wanted to come right out and mow it. We didn't want a lot of rules or applications or any kind of litmus test. If you called for help, we were coming. It was, and continues to be, a simple premise.
When we started our group back in February of 2009, we hoped that we would, perhaps, be able to get a dozen unemployed volunteers and possibly help a few people over the coming months. We posted some ads on Craigslist. We put up some signs in coffee shops. We told anyone who would listen what we were trying to accomplish. We thought that we would sit back and wait to see if anyone would even call us. What we received was an immediate outpouring of support, volunteers, and calls for help. We were inundated with people who needed help and people wanting to help them.
Now, here we sit 18 months later. We are still getting calls for help. We are still gathering volunteers. But, they aren't just in Portland anymore. We are getting calls from California to New York. From Texas to Minnesota. We have received calls and e-mails from over 25 states and over 50 cities. People in dozens of states and cities who want to start a WGTTH chapter. We are overwhelmed by the compassion and selflessness of Americans all across this land. They are saying "my city needs this" and they are saying "we've got time to help."
Sometimes it's hard, whether you have a job or not, to get out and volunteer. It can be uncomfortable or even a little scary. It's hard to meet new people and to step out of your comfort zone. It can be hard to offer assistance when you think you don't have any skills. But, let me let you in on a little secret. You do have something to offer. We all do. Sure, not all of us can rewire an electrical box or re-roof a house (neither can I). It doesn't matter that you don't have a special license or a certain type of degree (again, neither do I). It doesn't matter anyway, because those people with the technical skills and degrees are volunteering with us too. But, whatever your background is and whatever your circumstances are, what you can offer to those in need is hope.
Hope doesn't build homes or repair vehicles. Hope doesn't put food on the table or clothes on our back.
But hope does make it easier to face another tough day. Hope makes it okay not to give up.