There is a running joke that most teachers like snow days more than their students. Sure, we might fall a little behind schedule in our classes, but there is certainly something to be said for acknowledging that we cannot control everything. As hard as we might try, there is always uncertainty to deal with, and when that uncertainty comes in the form of a day off due to weather, I for one will not be found complaining. I love the chance to slow down and enjoy a somewhat unexpected break. Sure, snow days might cause a bit of an inconvenience, but this inconvenience is easily offset by the fact that I don’t have to go into work.
That said, I felt some mixed emotions last week as we enjoyed our snow days in the second half of the week. The reason for this was that on Friday, we were scheduled to host an event called Empty Bowls which was to benefit the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. The idea behind the event is compelling; we fill our own “empty bowls” to fill those of those in need throughout central Ohio. Members of the school community donate homemade soup, which guests can try for a donation. After they’ve had their fill of soup, our guests get to take home a commemorative bowl handmade by a student or faculty member. The event was scheduled during our evening boys basketball games against our league opponents at Bishop Hartley High School, which meant we would have a big crowd in the school. This is everything I like in a charity event. It’s hands-on, involves the whole community, and brings two great schools together to support an important cause. However, it was my first time doing the event, which was returning after a hiatus of nearly a decade. Like any other project I’ve worked on, I wanted to do it well, but on top of that, this was new territory for me in my role as director of service. I had never coordinated something with this many moving parts, and I had more than a little nervousness about the impact adverse weather might have on my ability to keep things moving according to plan. More importantly, I didn’t know how the weather might affect the success of the event itself.
We certainly did see some adverse weather in the latter half of that week. We were out of school for the two days prior to and the day of the event due to extreme cold and snow. For I think the first time in my life, I found myself feeling frustrated by the inconvenience of a snow day. I don’t mind missing a day of work here or there, but I did not want to see this event negatively affected by it. In this case, my easy resignation to a lack of control over the weather gave way to a feeling of helplessness. I was particularly worried about asking my colleagues to come in to donate soup and volunteer, because I knew it required me to ask them to sacrifice some of their time and energy on a day they were supposed to have off. Although I reassured myself this would not be an issue, my imagination jumped to all sorts of outlandish scenarios.
Of course, any worries I may have had were laughable. My coworkers are in a field of work that is service-oriented, particularly since we work at a Catholic school. Many of us have sacrificed higher-paying, less intensive careers or positions to be here because we want to serve. I mention this not to complain or make ourselves out to be martyrs, but rather to praise the generosity with which my colleagues live their lives. For them, service is not a one-time decision but rather a fundamental orientation. This sort of mindset makes acts of service easy, even when it’s not perfectly convenient. Service for them is second nature. I think it’s safe to say that this service mindset is contagious. I see it rub off on our students and families all the time. I cannot think of a single time in my short time as director of service that I have been short on volunteers. On the contrary, we are bursting at the seams any time we need help with something. As far as the event goes, it was abundantly successful. We had more than enough soup and volunteers, and were able to raise a generous contribution to the work of Mid-Ohio Foodbank. I would have a hard time overstating my heartfelt gratitude to all who contributed. The weather may have been dicey, but it was no hindrance to the generosity of friends.