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We can fix the broken things in this world | Neighbors Helping Neighbors
By ALANE BASCO-YU
There are broken things in this world.
That’s what I used to think whenever I saw food drives, someone on the street with a “need food” sign, or was asked to donate to yet another cause. I sometimes felt overwhelmed by these compelling requests to give.
I thought, “There are broken things in this world. Who am I to think that I can fix it?” What possible difference could my two cans of food make? Or the crumbled dollar that I managed to fish out of my purse to donate? So, more times than not, I walked by.
In almost exactly one heartbeat, my life changed.
After two back-to-back serious illnesses, I found myself without employment. Unable to pay our mortgage, our home went into foreclosure. This time period was also unstable and unpredictable for many in America. Others also lost their jobs and homes, for different reasons. I considered myself lucky that my husband was still employed.
We moved cross country (with our children in tow) when my husband was offered a more stable and better-paying job. Far from home, away from family, without much savings and starting fresh after getting rid of almost all of our belongings — things would get worse before they got better.
I came to Fishline for help at my absolute worst, without knowing what to expect or what we needed. I just knew that with each passing day, I worried more about how I would stretch our resources to continue to provide our most basic needs.
By the time I found myself at Fishline’s doors, the stability I had been raised to believe in was gone. I was shaken to my core. Volunteers at Fishline met my worries head on. Gently and with open hearts, Fishline helped to rebuild the stability in our lives — first, by being a constant resource for food and other basic needs, then by allowing me to volunteer and share my skills to return the kindness.
Once I was able to move past the worry, I could focus more clearly on our needs — beyond what I believed to be essential. “Need” means different things to different people. For me, it wasn’t standing on a street corner with a “need food” sign. I needed the opportunity that Fishline provided when they welcomed and provided for my family without judgment. I needed to know that I could still contribute something of value in a workplace. These simple acts were enough opportunity for someone like me.
I come from a good family, have a college degree, and had a good job at a local university — all the things that I believed I needed to be a successful person. But after you have lost all the material things that represent success, rebuilding with a different standard is crucial. Success for me is now marked by more important things.
Those thoughts I used to have — questioning who I am to fix society’s problems, what difference could I possibly make — I know now that I can make all the difference in the world. I know that with simplicity and kindness, the system can work because good people give — little and big. It’s the ability to give, after once having so little, that marks me for success today. Without a doubt, Fishline did that.
Life will continue to be challenging. There are broken things in this world. Unfixable, broken things. But thanks to Fishline, I don’t have to be one of them.
— Alane Basco-Yu is a Fishline volunteer and previous client. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.