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Why we gave our volunteers starfish...

Last month, as part of our annual dinner to celebrate SHARE’s accomplishments, we gave all of our volunteers a little gift to show our appreciation. The gift was a little silver starfish keychain.

You might be wondering- why did you give them all a starfish?

There’s a short story written by Loren C. Eisely entitled The Star Thrower. In the story, a young man is throwing starfish back into the sea in an attempt to save them before the changing tide stranded them on the shore. A wiser, older onlooker observes him, and comments that there is no way the young man can make a difference, as there are hundreds of starfish on the beach and only so much time before it was too late. The young man picks up another starfish and throws it into the ocean, and replies “It made a difference for that one.”

There are always voices that say that our small efforts aren’t making a big difference. Whether those voices are the external voices of society, the people in our lives who seem older and wiser than us, or our own internal voices of discouragement, they can make us feel that what we’re doing is useless. When we feel that what we’re doing is useless, we’re more likely to quit, or underestimate our efforts simply because they don’t seem big enough. After all, to the old man on the shore, the young man’s actions were useless, BUT to the starfish, the young man’s efforts changed it’s entire world.

While our tiny actions might seem small and insignificant compared to the size of the needs we observe around us, our help is monumental in the individual lives of those we serve. We didn’t give our volunteers starfish because we thought the story was cute, we gave them starfish because just like the young man in the story, they show up time after time to help. They see the needs in their own backyard, and rather than viewing it through a lens of discouragement and defeat, they are committed to doing whatever they can.

We gave our volunteers a starfish to commend them for having the audacity to believe they could make a difference by showing up, and to remind them that there is power in helping one person. There might be a lot of starfish in this community, but there are also a lot of star-throwers stepping in to make a difference with us, and they make a profound difference.

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