Letter from the Executive Director: March 2021

Exploring Our Core Values

2021 brings so many exciting opportunities at Helping Hands. One of the most meaningful opportunities is the development of our new strategic plan. Deciding the direction of the organization over the next 3-5 years allows us to connect with our stakeholders. We pride ourselves in listening to participants, elected officials, donors, volunteers and staff to explore the paths that we can take.

During one of these meetings we talked about our core values. Are we still all about kindness, respect and no judgment? One of the words that came up was dignity. I thought I knew the definition of dignity. I thought it meant showing someone they are equal and deserve what anyone else deserved, but what the dictionary says it means is: The quality or state of being worthy, honored or esteemed. 

Does everyone deserve dignity? Why would this matter to the organization? What if every time someone walked into Helping Hands they were shown dignity and walked out feeling worthy of someone’s effort, worthy of the smile the volunteer gave them, honored as a community member and felt better than they arrived? Honoring someone and making them feel worthy takes empathy, compassion, kindness and respect. It takes a deeper understanding of people. And it takes more work than handing them a loaf of bread. 

Showing someone dignity opens up that person’s mind to, “Am I worthy?” When we first opened up the new shopping model where people could pick their own food I overheard someone say, “Wow, I don’t know what to pick. No one has ever asked me what I want.” I hear a lot of time “beggars can’t be choosers.” I respond with who is the beggar? All I see is someone who chose to make the effort to feed their family today. I honor that person who puts down ego to focus on making their family stronger. 

So, does everyone deserve dignity? My answer is absolutely yes. What could we heal in this world if we showed dignity to strangers everyday? What if we taught our children to make people feel worthy and honored, not just respected? And why would it matter to Helping Hands if we gave participants dignity every time they visited? That is a question I want to keep exploring. If you want to help us explore how dignity can make a community stronger and more resilient please email me at rebeccas@helpinghandsfoodbank.org  and share your opinions on this topic.