Those who possess a passion for volunteer work will find that the community is uniquely supportive of them. At East Wind, no one has to worry about falling behind just to help others outside of their usual circles. This labor is valued just the same as any other because we recognize that being active in the broader Ozark community and helping our neighbors is important.
East Wind legislation enacted in April 2001 reads:
Civic Support [credited labor] hours may be granted for members to:
- Support another community, especially one aligned with East Wind’s values.
- Support a local, regional or national organization whose goals are aligned with EW and FEC values. Members are encouraged to support local (in county) organizations.
- Support individuals and families in need, especially those with close ties to EW, such as ex-members or friends of EW.
Currently, a small group of East Winders drive to the Gainesville Food Bank every month to help pack and carry large boxes of food for local people who need food assistance. These volunteers work in conjunction with other compassionate individuals in the Gainesville community who organize the effort and procure supplies.
A few especially active East Winders have been helping the Farm, Fork & Fiddle (a local food co-op, consignment shop, live music venue, and community kitchen) get up and running. You may be able to find East Wind products there, and you can read an article from the local paper on the food co-op here.
East Wind has also adopted the nearby highway for regular clean-ups.
Volunteer efforts in the past have included giving our peanut butter to charities, donating to the local animal shelter, disaster relief, and joining the volunteer fire department. East Wind also sets up a free kitchen at every annual Rainbow Gathering.
Below is a personal story from an East Winder, recounting memories of some heartfelt instances where community pulled together to provide help and assistance to those in need:
I’ve read old accounts from the Sheriff in Ozark County that speaks of East Winders being at the blood drives and food drives helping out along the way from the early 70s, which I imagine must have been one heck of a culture shock for all the kids involved on both sides of that fence. I also remember in ‘93 the AIDS quilt sewn by survivors of the disease that killed so many. When the display came to town, East Winders were the first to volunteer for this moving reminder.
We live two miles down a dirt road. We start our civic support with our neighbors! We are a phone call away from helping our closest neighbors with a bit of plumbing or a brush fire that gets out of control. In the country you find out how important your neighbors are when the water pump is out, and someone fills some coolers with drinkable water from their well to help out. We also do volunteer work around the local community, recently donating peanut butter to a local shelter that put a call out for food. We are often a phone call away from helping, and even have a section of road that we do our best to keep clean! Recently a few East Winders started the process of joining the local Volunteer fire department.
I’ve taken on a few Civic support projects with East Winders. The one I was very proud of was recently helping out with Joplin relief after a F5 tornado took out a 1 mile by 13 mile strip of land. We had heard that the city wasn’t wanting volunteers yet. We really didn’t know what we were getting into, but we loaded up the van and a flatbed trailer loaded down with a ton (no, really, a full ton!) of peanuts and peanut butter a few bags of clothes to donate and a pile of everything we needed to eat and live for a while.
We headed out and got set up with the United Way and we were stepping up to volunteer within a week of the tornado hitting. Our first job in 100 degree weather was to clear a field by the hospital. The debris was unbelievable, it was as if everything was shredded. Even cars and dumpsters were ripped in half and big pieces where nowhere to be seen. The houses on the lot where gone the basements or an odd corner would appear untouched. The devastation was as far as the eye could see and it really sunk in what had happened.
We took on another clearing day in a town close by that got hit as well working side by side with military, locals, folks from all over the country who came in to help Joplin. It felt good to be working together. We got to see the other side of the relief project as well, working in the donation center separating the massive amount of donations coming in to resupply these folks who lost… well… everything. Some of our crew utilized their organization skills in this environment and really took on and accomplished some big projects with ease. In general, it seems East Winders got some super hero in them.
We also got to spend some time with the people affected by the tornado, we got to listen to their stories. We never lost eye contact as they replayed the time in their head for us. We listened to horrific accounts. We hugged them, fed them, and smiled with them. We don’t have a giant budget to send people on piles of these missions but when there are neighbors in need we do our best.