Growth and Comfort Do Not Co-Exist
Hitchhiking Across Hawaii for All Hands and Hearts
March 19, 2019
Mary Bozzacco and Kyle Weatherbie were mid-WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) at a farm in Captain Cook, HI when Tropical Storm Lane made landfall on The Big Island of Hawaii. They had both recently finished a term with AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) and were working at a farm with two other former NCCC members. The group didn’t experience any damage from the storm but felt compelled to do something supportive in its wake.
During their service with NCCC, Mary’s and Kyle’s teams deployed on disaster response to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Having previously worked with All Hands and Hearts in a partnership capacity, they were eager to know what what the response plans were for the islands. A week later, the pair hitched their way across the island to Hilo. Their intention of a long bus journey was complicated by the holiday weekend, but they found a kind Australian on vacation who happened to be driving around the whole island. His desired final destination: Hilo. Their commute wasn’t exactly direct, stopping for slurpees, sea turtles, and waterfalls, but an experience like that was authentically “aloha”.
THE ALOHA SPIRIT IS ABOUT BEING MINDFUL, WORKING WITH UNITY, HONESTY, HUMILITY, AND PATIENT PERSEVERANCE.
It’s about sharing the joy of life and accepting that you are a part of something larger than yourself. Hawaiians greet each other by pressing the bridges of noses together and breathing deeply; it’s an intimate display that reminds us of the connectivity of life and the spiritual power between two people. This feeling has been evident throughout their time on the island, especially while working with All Hands and Hearts.
Mary says that working with All Hands and Hearts in the Virgin Islands had her captivated with disaster response and the impact one person could have on another. To be presented with another possibility to offer relief in such an unexpected place and time reaffirms her newly found mantra of “growth and comfort do not co-exist,” (Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM). She’s found that when she pushes herself out of her comfort zone to outlandish places, from organic farms in Hawaii to wildfire fuel reduction in California, she exposes herself to ideas, people, and skills that she had never considered before. Her willingness to receive serendipity has brought her joy and purpose and invigorates her passion to serve.
Similarly, Kyle shares the mindset of taking opportunities as they come, and to experience all that one can. He joined AmeriCorps NCCC when he was uncertain of what to do following university and felt the best way to spend his time was to make a difference. He wanted to do something bigger than himself. These experiences have inspired him to incorporate service into his future plans in a more sustainable lifestyle. To not just take spontaneous volunteer opportunities when they arise, but to build a life that allows him to continue to serve others.
Mary and Kyle continue their volunteering with All Hands and Hearts on the response to Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. Mary is known fondly as “Saw Queen” due to her knowledge, skill, and devoted attention to safety with the chainsaw teams. Additionally, she recently accepted a staff position as Volunteer Relations Coordinator for the Florence Response and will remain for the recovery program in the new year. Kyle has been an incredible team leader on a number of muck and gut sites and will start a staff position as Logistics Coordinator for the recovery program as well. This is a true example of the model that All Hands and Hearts operates on: Building up and empowering volunteers into being leaders.
Photos and story by HR Wright for All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response