Epilogue: Meredith DeLeeuw

Life is a journey, not a destination.  This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson perfectly sums up my last 8 days.  What started out as a hopeful destination towards a career, led to one of the greatest journeys of my life.  Never did I think I would learn so much, have so much fun, or create a lasting impact in 8 days.  Every day I was surrounded by passionate people who inspired me in so many ways.  I loved nothing more than learning about each and every one of their journeys.  For some, a life of service was a straight path, and for others a long winding road.  I would like to think my path towards volunteering and non-profits was always straight, but yet slightly blinded.  I always knew that I loved helping people, but I was not sure how I could make an impact.  Volunteering was always something I did on the side, but I never thought a non-profit could or should be my life path.  That is until now.  Until Memphis.

Memphis, you have already had a lasting effect on me in 3 short months.  The people of this town inspire you to want to do more.  This city is truly full of grit and grinders.  It is full of wonderful people ready to help you in any way they can.  I never saw Memphis coming, but I am so thankful that God brought us here.  It is exactly where I need to be.

I am not sure why it never occurred to me to consider the non-profit sector to fill the void I felt with other positions.  I always thought I would help people in a more “professional” way, similar to the way my husband does as a doctor.  How could I not see the much more obvious answer?  Take my passion for helping people… and go out and help them.  Not only have I had the chance to help Memphians, even more surprising, I have had the chance to inspire Memphians.  Inspire them to cultivate relationships in their own community.  Sarah Petschonek showed me that with love and a lot of hard work, you can take your passion for volunteering and make a career out of it.

Thank you to every single person I have met on my journey so far.  I am a better person for knowing you.  Thank you to every single organization that opened their doors to me during my volunteer odyssey.  Thank you to Memphis Tilth, St. Jude, Memphis Botanic Garden, UBFM, Fig Tree Food Pantry, Southern Reins, Volunteer Odyssey, and Shelby Farms.  I am so blessed to have been able to help further your missions.  I will continue to shout your praises all through Memphis and beyond!

I have yet to find my exact place in the Memphis non-profit sector, but until then, I am happily continuing to volunteer at Memphis Tilth, UBFM, Fig Tree Food Pantry, and St. Jude.  It is more about the journey than the destination.  I have never been so excited to wake up at 6 am on a Saturday morning to go hand out burritos.  Never have fire ant bites hurt so little as when I am planting sustainable food in a community garden.  I have finally realized my path to happiness is through the happiness of others.  I know the right position for me is out there and I cannot wait to find it!

Is 8 days long enough to change someone’s outlook on life?  I say yes, yes it is.


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