From Merrilee: Not a 'Goodbye', Just a 'See You the Next Time'!
Thursday, July 1st, 2021
As I write this, I am hearing Rod on the tractor, shuffling bread and produce out to the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard. I can hear volunteers laughing in the food cupboard space, getting ready to greet customers already waiting in line. Kazia is diligently and artfully updating our website. I am struck by the fullness of this moment, the bitter-sweet edges and the connections with so many that I've accrued since being here these last three years.
As the title might suggest, this is a grateful "See you the Next Time" and certainly not a final goodbye. I won't be far and though I won't be at PR Food Center daily, I will always be connected in some form. My work is shifting to focus on the development of a mobile community resource center (the Joy Truck!) and attending the Intermedia MFA program at the University of Maine. Piscataquis County will always be home, and I am counting on popping in on Erin and Kazia and Steve and Rod as PR Food Center continues to evolve. And, I am definitely hoping to see all of your faces that I've grown accustomed to seeing in our shared work of hunger relief and community wellness!
So for today, I offer thanks. Being the Community Food Services Coordinator has been such an incredible journey. Such a trip! From the early days of being Erin's first Americorps VISTA, zooming around in her car delivering to 12 FarmShare for Homebound Seniors customers, dancing to Bowie, facilitating meetings and discussing the Tao of Pooh to a few moves to NY and CA in-between, to now, this moment: Handing the Community Food Services Coordinator Baton to Kazia, who I know will continue to keep the hunger relief lamp lit, alongside Erin and Steve and Rod and all those who PR Food Center partners with.
As I reflect a little on my last day I feel enormous, bittersweet gratitude. I've been fortunate to grow in wonderful unexpected ways with PRFC. Erin has always been a mentor to me, and a dear friend, from day one, and the opportunity to be here the last three years has been monumental. I have learned the art of "going with the flow" more here than any school or life-lesson might have taught. I have learned to find joy and hold lightly the heavy recognition of regional food insecurity while still acknowledging the weighty reality. I have connected deeply with customers and know without a doubt that PRFC is more than a delivery service, providing life-lines along distribution of food. I have learned that big changes come from little steps, and little steps are mighty even when tangible outcomes are a horizon line and not immediate. I have learned that hunger relief efforts look like rapid implementation and also gradual, intentional relationship building. Systems change takes time. Community resilience takes time. Unconditional love takes time. And how lucky I have been to have spent my time in this way.
In closing, I impart a few excerpts from the Tao of Pooh with you all, which was introduced to me first by Erin.
May today be a source of Pooh. And your orientation to life flow like water.
"Efficiency is like that of water flowing around rocks...
not mechanical, nor a straightforward approach.
Water harnesses the inner sensitivity to natural rhythms.
I go down with the water and come up with the water
I follow it and forget myself
I survive because I don't struggle against the water.
Work with the flow! Operate on the principle of natural order.
There are no mistakes.
No need to try too hard.
All is well! "
See you around the neighborhood!