July 27, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Do we always give credit where credit is due?

Shirley Vogler MeisterMy sister, Beverley, told me that one morning when she left the dentist’s office she thanked her doctor for giving her a beautiful smile.

Although Bev has always had a lovely smile, apparently her dentist polished it to perfection and was grateful for the compliment.

This made me wonder: Have I ever sincerely said “thank you” for dental work? If not, shame on me.

By the same token, Bev’s experience reminded me that not too long before that—after my husband, Paul, and I finished our appointment with a certified public accountant to prepare income tax forms—I did sincerely tell him how much we have appreciated his expertise through the years. He seemed genuinely pleased with the compliment.

“Thank you” usually rolls from my tongue in an automatic way most of the time, but I sometimes forget to be specific.

I say “thanks” to clerks, doctors, the postman and gentlemen who graciously open a door for me.

I casually say it to grocery cashiers and bank tellers, waiters and waitresses, and those who deliver packages to my door. I say it to family members, friends and ­professional colleagues.

However, there are many unsung heroes who do their jobs quietly yet never hear a “thank you”—even volunteers in various roles. I know because I’ve been in many such situations myself when nary a “thanks” comes my way despite my dedication to a cause.

Not so at St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis, operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor. There, volunteers are always welcomed and appreciated.

In fact, volunteers are even honored with an annual Mass and luncheon. Unfortunately, I have not been able to attend many of their recognition luncheons, but that matters not. Why? Because I feel as though I should be honoring them for the privilege of seeing the good work of the Little Sisters and their staff—and, of course, their volunteers.

Volunteers are the mainstay of most

non-profit organizations and charities. When a good match is made between a volunteer and a need, I know that God’s grace is at work.

More than that, often volunteering can lead to fulfilling employment. I’ve seen this happen in schools and parishes, hospitals and nursing homes, amateur sports and Scouting-type endeavors.

Back to giving credit where credit is due: Let’s be grateful for volunteers, but also remember to say “thanks” to others who provide services for us.

When was the last time we have smiled and said “thanks” to firemen having lunch in public? Or thanked a security officer at a mall? Or complimented a priest whose homily has touched us? Or praised a street musician or “sanitation engineers” in the neighborhood or those who keep our public parks beautiful or … .

The list is endless.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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