the last day of no-holds-barred volunteerism, we were all determined to get to a point that would leave the local SALS team well positioned to keep the momentum going. There was universal agreement among those who had experienced the single home improvement opportunity to go back to the school, although Kevin and older Chris stayed to spend the morning reading with the summer school kids.
At the school, my seamstress soul mate and I tackled the last of the curtains. the Tile Chicks donned their yellow ponchos and fired up the dull-bladed tile cutter, Tricia wielded her paint brush, and others engaged in a task near and dear to my heart – the ‘O’ word (organization!). The remaining quantities of food in the storage room was transferred to the room designated as the community distribution pantry where people could come to obtain food at little or no cost.
We gathered for a pre-lunch team meeting at which Barbara handed out certificates acknowledging the personal contributions of each team member, along with a group photo taken on our Sunday hike with the New River Gorge bridge in the background. (No, Ellie, those fluffy white clouds were not photo-shopped.)
At lunch, we were joined by the SALS and AmeriCorps/VISTA folks for a fabulous traditional West Virginia meal of fried chicken provided by Artie. It was bittersweet as we bid Michael and Gabby an early good-bye and safe travels so that Gabby could complete coursework she had not been able to undertake due to limited internet access.
Next rustic plywood and cinder block shelving was constructed in the community pantry and the remaining quantities of food were arranged much like a grocery store. Word got around that the last tile was cut and being laid, and everyone found time to drop by and marvel at the accomplishment.
When Vickie arrived, she was ecstatic about the progress made. We presented her with a framed page explaining the various images of West Virginia depicted on the curtains, signed by each one of us. Her vision of a community gathering spot, with décor highlighting the heritage of West Virginia, was nearer to reality.
We drove back to SALS via the Dairy Queen, then everyone had some down time before preparing for dinner. Artie arrived with the van and we had a little ceremony thanking him for all he had done for us –and for being a great guy in general.
For dinner we went to Tamarack, a sort of enclosed mall offering the best of ‘Made in West Virginia’, including a food buffet run by the Greenbrier. We did our bit to add to the local economy. Mary Rose stealthily followed Barbara around to identify the item that elicited the most oohs and aahs – a pottery bowl. At dinner’s end, we were able to give it to her as a small token of our appreciation for her leadership, support, and friendship.
In addition to achieving the week’s tasks and projects, I think we had arrived at an understanding and reconciliation of what each side brought to the effort. We certainly felt closely connected to each other, and were already setting plans for next year in Montana.
I find a quote from Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology particularly apt to end with: ‘Life all around me here in the village: tragedy, comedy … oh what patterns!’