What Rhymes with“New Year?” Volunteer!

Happy 2023!  The New Year is a time we naturally reflect on the joy and sadness of the past year.  My family mourned the passing of Nancy’s mom on September 8th, but we find comfort that her human pains are past, and she is feeling only joy and peace in Heaven.  And we’re still feeling the overwhelming pride that a former Sugar Land Skeeter, Jeremy Peña, led the Astros to their second World Series victory in five years.  Jeremy was the first rookie to be named MVP of the World Series.

Pete Olson donating his O positive blood.

We all start out each New Year with resolutions we’ll make to improve our lives. My annual resolution is to defeat my “dunlop” disease – my belly has “done lopped” over my belt.  Each January, I vow to eat better, exercise more and get more sleep.  Each January 1st, I wake up with belly obscuring my belt. I have great intentions, but poor follow through.  I did not keep my New Year’s resolution for 2022.  I’m on a twenty-year streak of unfulfilled resolutions.

I suspect I’m not alone. Most of us don’t fulfill our New Year’s resolutions. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, we’re not very sane.   However, there are resolutions we can make and KEEP every year if we adjust our focus to OTHERS instead of ourselves.  My New Year’s resolution for 2023 is to regularly volunteer for the many wonderful organizations that take care of our neighbors in times of need.  I’m going to volunteer my time at least once a month.  It may be an hour of my time or a full day of my time – I resolve to make a difference in 2023 by volunteering.  Volunteers are Fort Bend Strong!

Pete Olson and Deysi Crespo.

The great thing about Fort Bend is the “welcome mat” will roll out for you wherever you chose to make a difference by volunteering – a Google search of “fort bend volunteer” returned 3.7 MILLION hits.  In 2023, I’m going to start becoming a monthly blood donor like I was after the 9/11 Pentagon attack a few miles from our home in Virginia.  I have gone to our local Gulf Coast Regional Blood center twice in the past 8 months.  For 2023, I resolve to donate my O positive blood at least once a month.

I tend to give blood via automation instead of whole blood. Automation takes longer (two hours) than giving whole blood (one hour), but both donations fill critical needs.  The process is extremely simple and pain-free except for a momentary “prick” when the needle is inserted in your arm.  All you have to do is squeeze a foam ball when the machine tells you to do so. Walk-ins are welcome. The Blood Center usually gives donors some “swag.” They have cookies and food so you can replenish the sugar the blood donation takes from your body.

Our Sugar Land Blood Center, located in the Kroger shopping center off of Sweetwater Boulevard, can be reached on-line at www.commitforlife.org or 281-313-1122. If you live in north Fort Bend, there’s another center in Katy at 1575 South Grand Parkway, Suite 600, one exit north of La Centerra. Reach them at 281-392-7902.  The “gift of life” is Fort Bend Strong!

Per capita, Fort Bend County is the wealthiest county in Texas.  Sadly, that wealth doesn’t trickle down to some of our families in need. The only fireworks these neighbors have to start the new year are the pangs of hunger. During the COVID pandemic, Nancy and I volunteered at the Houston Food Bank’s main warehouse and headquarters on 535 Portwall Street in Houston. It was hard work but very rewarding. Annually, our food bank gives 150 MILLION meals to our hungry neighbors – they ALWAYS need volunteers!  To get more information, please call the Volunteer Services Hotline at 832-369-9390 or visit www.houstonfoodbank.org.

Do you want to volunteer in Fort Bend County?  Do you have a car?  If so, then Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels needs you!  They serve senior citizens who cannot leave their homes.  Meals on Wheels delivers hot meals to the homebound four days per week with frozen meals for the weekends.  The volunteer drivers deliver more than food – they deliver companionship and a smile to people who are often isolated and alone. Visiting www.fortbendseniors.org is a great place to start.  Fort Bend Seniors Meals on Wheels is Fort Bend Strong!

Do you live in Katy and prefer to volunteer close to home?   Deysi Crespo and Katy Christian Ministries (KCM) want you!  KCM is much more than a food pantry.  They have a 24-hour domestic abuse crisis hotline and counseling services for victims. Do you have neighbors who need clothing, appliances or furniture? KCM has a Resale Shop that can use your help.  Having trouble paying your bills? Deysi and her team are standing by for you at www.ktcm.org.  If you drop by the KCM “complex” at 3506 Porter Road in old Katy, you’ll be hooked.  I was. Katy Christian Ministries is Fort Bend Strong!

Maybe you’re a baseball fan with a passion for special needs kids?  I have a deal for you at the First Colony Dream League.  I have been very active in the Dream League since 2013. The Dream League is all about the kids with special needs. The 2023 schedule will be posted on www.firstcolonydreamleague.com soon. Each game is two innings long. There are no runs and no outs. Each player bats once per inning. They all are in field once per inning. Many of the players have a hard time tracking the ball or paying attention. So, we need many volunteers called “Angels in the Outfield” to be with a special needs player. I was Abigail’s Angel last season, and she inspired me beyond anything I could possibly imagine – Abigail is TOTALLY BLIND! Here is Abigail crushing a “beeping” baseball I bought for her with Angels protecting her as she runs the bases.  Abigail and her Dream League teammates are Fort Bend Strong!

I hope this January 2023 Fort Bend Strong column has motivated you to include volunteerism in your 2023 New Year’s resolutions.  Helping a neighbor you do not even know is pure love and pure Fort Bend County.  Every volunteer in Fort Bend County makes all of us stronger.