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Great Neck Notebook: May 23, 2012

For Granted

It is the nature of the human experience that we tend to take things for granted. What has always been part of our lives we expect to always remain part of our lives. We usually don’t value things until we lose them.

Up until a few weeks ago, the act of walking (for me) was as commonplace and unremarkable as breathing. I did it and didn’t think much about it. Then I injured my right hip. How I injured it I still don’t know, but every step I took included a stabbing pain. My right leg felt like it might buckle at any moment when I put weight on it.

Fortunately, I was acquainted with a remarkable physical therapist who had helped me with other problems and with his due diligence I am close to my old self again. But the experience made me think about other things I take for granted—because I’ve never been without them.

First and foremost there’s food. I’ve always had enough money to purchase whatever food I needed. I haven’t always made wise food choices, but that’s a story for another day. Then there’s shelter. I’ve always had a roof over my head, a safe, warm, dry place to sleep every night. I’ve always had a job that paid me a sufficient amount to provide for my needs and the needs of the ones I hold dear.

Last but not least on the “things I’ve taken for granted” list is family and friends. I’ve always had family who would support and encourage me in times of trouble and hardship. And there has been hardship—for none of us escape this life unscathed by the vagaries of misfortune, disease and sometimes just plain bad luck. I’ve also been fortunate to have had a few close friends who were willing to rally around me and lend a helping hand because they saw something worthwhile in me.

It has become all too clear to me through my work with the homeless that there are so many people—so many neighbors—who have not had all the advantages that I’ve had. People who know all too well what it is like to be hungry and not have food in the refrigerator. People who know all too well what it is like not to have a safe, warm, dry place to sleep at night. People who know all too well what it is like to not have a job—to not have the funds they need to provide for themselves and their children and loved ones.

The more good fortune I’ve had in my life the more I feel a sacred obligation to help those who haven’t been as lucky. I know too well that in the dark moments of my life that someone reached out to me and gave me that helping hand that made the difference between hope and despair.

That is why I’ve worked for the past 10 years to support the mission of the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN), which has provided food, shelter and support services to Long Island families for over 25 years. It’s why I ask each of you dear readers to share a little bit of your good fortune with our neighbors in need.

Donations may be mailed to: Dave Golbert, 7 Lee Court West, Great Neck, NY 11024. Please make your check payable to: The Interfaith Nutrition Network. Whatever amount you can afford to give will offer hope to those who need it most.

In the end, our lives will be measured and remembered not by the size of a wallet, or a car, or a house, but by the size of our hearts, by the size of our compassion for one another. The most important lesson life has taught me is that the surest path to a rich and fulfilling life is by helping others.