All the Feels
If something defines Mt. Lebanon, it’s this town’s large number of dedicated volunteers. But volunteering doesn’t just help the recipient—it teaches volunteers about themselves.
One memorable volunteer gig I had was with my high school band at Montour High School. The band parents frequently subcontracted us out to do odd jobs to earn money to send the whole band to Disney World and the Kentucky Derby. Definitely worthwhile. One year, a group of us went to Kaufmann’s in South Hills Village to do autumn inventory for the department store. I got stuck in “ladies separates,” code for “polyester outfits.” We spent hours around the circular racks with pencils and three-part forms recording our count of mix-n-match blouses, shirts, pants, gauchos, vests, blazers, tunics and skirts. I didn’t know what half of it was. (“Is this a jacket or a blazer? What’s the difference between a tunic and a blouse?”) It was the mid-‘80s and it all looked plucked from the wardrobe of the Golden Girls.
But I also had opportunities that took my breath away. My freshman drama class was volunteering at a local group home for people with severe cognitive disabilities one autumn. One Friday evening, we took them on a field trip to a high school football game. The coordinator put me in charge of Richard, a charming resident who was full of smiles.
It was my job to keep an eye on Richard. We had fun watching the game and laughing. At some point, I turned away and when I looked back at him, he had a cup of hot chocolate in his hand and began to drink it. I didn’t think anything of it, but then I saw his face instantly turn bright red. The chocolate had burned him in just the few short seconds it took for him to sip it. Richard did not have the ability to feel pain. My first thought was that it was a true gift to never suffer from a stubbed toe or bee sting or excruciating kidney stone. But in mere seconds, he was burned from a run-of-the-mill cocoa. In that case, pain would have been a gift. Without pain, how do we know when we are hurt or in danger? Thankfully, he was OK. I left with a new appreciation for my ability to feel.
The selfless volunteers at 412 Food Rescue, including several Mt. Lebanon residents, help put food on the table for thousands of people in our region. Read about their efforts in Rachel Weaver Labar’s story on page 28.
Know an outstanding volunteer? It’s easy to nominate someone for Mt. Lebanon’s Volunteer of the Year Award. The Community Relations Board selects one person who best represents Mt. Lebanon’s culture of giving. Find the application on page 26 or online at www.mtlebanon.org. Deadline: February 18, 2022.
All of us at Mt. Lebanon Municipality hope you have a wonderful holiday season. And we share warmest gratitude for this magazine’s advertisers, who help us tell your stories.