Reflections on Rise Up and Celebrate 2021
A Reflection: A day in the lives of unsung heroes and friends.
My usual work day starts with clearing my emails, seeing Rise employees and client names on the daily basis. I read the names of our senior coordinators claiming petty cash, names of clients on invoices, names of support workers and volunteers, names on bank statements. Just names.
I work out processing or attending to these email requests or call them on teams if I need to clarify some stuffs. I am curious and thought of meeting them, know what they do and how do they look like.
When the email for committee volunteering came out, I jumped straight away and raised my hand, even having no clue on what to do. This is a one-hit day to see all these people whose documents I am working on every-day. On our committee meeting day, I finally met my faceless documents in the flesh: Casey, Anne, Monica, Toni, Bernadette, Katerina and Luana. I met a few more as my bonus: Nicole, Belinda, Sarah, Sharon, Puja, Greg, Jacob, and Nick.
I saw them weekly on meetings and have witnessed how they poured out their mind and heart on planning. I realised I am surrounded with people from a different league, the un-sung heroes doing whatever they could behind the scenes to ensure that the event will be beautiful and fun, if not perfect.
The event day came, and I arrived 730am at the venue to help decorate the place. The unsung heroes were there as soon as the centre opened at 645pm. It was festive and happy, we are singing and laughing as we roll out the tinsels and tried figuring out how to assemble the lanterns. Tables and chairs were delivered, and we all muscled up arranging these in the middle. Other volunteers were armed with scissors and sticky tapes and covered the tables in purple and orange, placed the table decors and the printed menus on top, while the rest were setting up the activity booths for Santa, tattoo station, face-painting, canvas arts, and the food station. All these happening in synchronised fashion. It’s like watching an orchestra.
The time has come. Clients, support workers, family members and more volunteers poured in. I am nervous. I told myself to make this day special for them. If I can make them smile, my heart will be full.
First, I met Jarrod Dickerson and his support worker. I noticed his smiling lips were dry. I offered to get them some bottled drinks. I also noticed Jarrod’s phone in his pocket and asked if he would like to get have a photo taken with it and he agreed. We chatted a bit more about what he would like to eat from the menu, and I told him I will be at the pizza station. If he would recognise me, I will give him two slices. He did.
Cindy welcomed us to the country and sang her winning song. It was so beautiful I felt it in my heart.
Music started and feet were tapping. Sarah Harrington and I went to the dance floor. Soon we were joined by Stefano Pereira, Peter, John Mason, Amber- Lee, Caroline; eventually the floor was filled, and we were almost shoulder to shoulder. Judith Oskam showed us some dance steps to follow; she really got the grooves, you know. I saw Justine C danced with so much bravado, I can’t keep up.
A slow music was played and saw Judith danced with Stefano. It warmed my heart.
Yummy food was served at 11:30am. Everyone was satisfied. Tonnes of desserts followed.
Later the day, all sang the “Celebration song”, we jumped and laughed, hips swayed whilst hands up in the air. I saw smiles in every corner.
As the day comes to an end, DJ Steve played the Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is You. I danced with John Mason. When the song ended, he motioned me to lean down forward and he whispered, “It was beautiful” and he kissed both my hands. I teared up.
The last song Feliz Navidad was played, with a client signing the words.
As the guests were ushered out, I saw smiles and heard “Thank you” as they went out.
And then they were all gone.
I looked around and once again, my unsung heroes were left there tidying up the place with whatever strength left in them.
I just had one day in the lives of these heroes and our clients and I my heart was filled with so many experiences to cherish. Thank you for this humbling encounter. Well done and hats-off to all you.
By Ferdilyn Daya