January Great Story by Izabela Cirloganu, Bay Area Climate Fellow
For this past month, no other activity left a stronger impression on me as the first CivicSpark volunteering day during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, on January 16th. A few days before the event, due to some unforeseen circumstances, I learned that my four-year-old daughter would have to come and join me. I started to prepare her as I do with anything that breaks her normal routine. I told her who Dr. King was and why it is important to give back to your community whenever possible. She seemed to listen but then also, out of the blue, she would start a different conversation about seals and narwhals. Therefore, I decided to just go with the flow.
She woke up early during the day of the event and she was quite interested in getting the attention of my fellow colleagues I carpooled with to Richmond. We reached the place in the early morning. It was a crisp but beautiful day. People showed up in great numbers, quite enthusiastic and ready to get their hands dirty. We started by cleaning a large area of trash and debris and we slowly moved to planting, digging and loading mulch. My daughter was a ball of happiness. Her eyes would chase even the smallest piece of trash which she would then pick up and store in the bag. Later on, as I moved to helping load the mulch barrels she would work next to me, sweating, handling a small rake and shovel but always smiling and willing to keep going. She was asking whom she should help next, running to spread the dirt on a newly planted tree or pushing a very heavy load of mulch. Time passed fast and it seemed that we moved through lunch, a meeting and the trip back home in the blink of an eye.
Later that night, I was in for a big surprise. I put her to sleep and I was getting ready to turn off the light when she unexpectedly said “Thank you, mommy, for everything you do for me. I had so much fun today. Today was important, wasn’t it? It is good to help other people and you know… Dr. Martin King, I think he was a good doctor. Right?”
My daughter is four years and three months and this was the first time she thanked me for something that was not a doll, another lego set or a piece of cake. I sat there on her bed and all I could muster was “Yes, Anais we always have to help other people and Dr. Martin Luther King was actually a great leader.” For a few split seconds, I was able to see the world through my daughter’s eyes; a carefree world of good people, great doctors, and clear January blue skies.
Later that night, I went to sleep myself feeling for the first time in a few months a little bit more optimistic about how the future will unfold.