For the past month I have been in Krakow, Poland volunteering with an organization that supports Ukrainian refugees.
A Drop in the Ocean (Drapen I Hvet) runs the Szafa Dobra (Free Shop) that supplies clothes, shoes and other necessities for Ukrainians who are fleeing war.
I am impressed every-single-day with A Drop in the Ocean’s methods of getting a large number of items to the most refugees with dignity and compassion.
People have been asking about my daily routine and how I put out one column a day while volunteering eight hours a day.
Here you go.
My daily routine:
6:00 AM Meditate, shower, dress, make breakfast, eat breakfast.
6:30 AM: Answer emails and messages that came in overnight. Finish writing daily column.
7:30 AM Prepare website for column: Name column, add column, upload photos, add photos, Add captions, set main photo, set social media verbiage, change links, add social media links from website, change last column.
8:10 AM: Publish column
8:11 AM: Check link to new column. Not working? Republish. Working? Add link to current column to yesterday’s column. Publish column. Add new column to the TRAVEL page of the website. Publish.
8:14 AM: Write Facebook post for today’s column. Add link. Post. 8:16 AM: Update Linktree links for Instagram. Post.
8:18 AM: Post Instagram post for today’s column. Mention that the direct link to this column is linked in my bio.
8:20 AM: Pack for the day: Yellow vest, ID tag, water bottle, umbrella, snacks/lunch.
8:22 AM: Leave for the tram.
8:25-8:30 AM: Catch tram #1 on the next block. Remember to pay for ticket in the app on my phone. Waiting for the tram? Post a few pictures to Instagram stories.
8:45 – 8:50 Get off tram. Walk to the Szafa Dobra Free Shop.
8:55 AM: Sign in to Drop in the Ocean on the app, put bag into locker, put on vest and ID. Greet others in the morning meeting area.
9:00 AM: Morning meeting. Whole group, then English speaking group meets separately, then whole group again.
9:10 AM: During the whole group part of the meeting, decide if I want to sort clothes in the warehouse or work on the floor with beneficiaries. I always choose working on the floor with beneficiaries.
Micha askes people what jobs they want. She calls out each area, one job at a time. I opt in for different things on different days. Kids’ Corner, Restocking, Kids Clothing organization, Prep English classes.
9:20 AM: Listen to rules and job descriptions. Every day. Same rules. Only bring out two or three new things to the floor at a time. Never do favors. Never ask beneficiaries personal questions. Never ask beneficiaries about their stories.
Almost every question can be answered with “I don’t know.” Or “This is all we have.”
We must keep our phone on us all day and the phone must be turned on. (If the battery is weak, we carry a charger.) If we need help, we have a number to call. If something in the world happens, we will get alerted. If there is an emergency, we will get evacuation orders.
9:45 AM: Prep area where I will work for the day. Restocking? Put hangers onto rack all facing in the same direction. Choose a box from the “Needs” list.
9:50 AM: Prep some more. Send chat to Drops who stayed home sick today. Need anything?
10:00 Doors open. Work. Help. Stay motivated. Drink water. Meet cool people while working including Drops and/or beneficiaries.
For restocking: Place the label from the box onto the rack. Hang clothes onto hangers. Check again for stains, tears or anything that makes the clothes less-than-perfect. Clothes ok? Hang. Clothes dirty? Add to laundry box. Clothes worn thin/ripped/stained? Add to trash box.
Carry clothes to floor, add to rack. Place label from box onto wall where it will be counted. Add box to “Available” pile. Get a new box and do it again and again and again. Take a break when needed.
1:00 PM: Micha will come around and ask if I want to continue the same job for second shift or if I want to remain where I am.
1:30 PM: Second shift starts. Work. Help. Stay motivated. Drink water. Talk to cool people while working. Take a break when needed.
4:00 PM: Shop closes. Clean. Clothing racks need to be reorganized, restocked. Floor is swept and mopped. Get the totals for the day.
Totals tend to go something like:
· # of beneficiaries: 500
· # of items: 5,000
5:00 PM: Time to go home. (Unless it’s Thursday: Mandatory meeting for one hour in the Free Shop.) Walk to tram. Take the #1 or the #14. Prepare to stand. Ignore that there appears to be a stronger police presence in the city the past few days. Polish friends insist that it was always there, I just didn’t notice. Maybe. Maybe not.
5:30 PM: Stop downstairs at the restaurant for a lemonade to release the day. Climb two flights of stairs to my apartment. Eat a snack while sitting on my window seat people watching.
6:00 PM: Nap.
6:30 PM: Go out for a camera walk. Visit my favorite church and/or other cool places. Or Meet friends for a drink. Or do my writing early so I can meet friends later.
6:45 PM: Plan route to Team dinner if it is a Tuesday or a Friday. Other days meet friends for dinner. Or cook at home.
7:00 PM Tuesday or Friday, attend Team dinner. Try really hard to remember everyone’s names.
9:00 PM: Process photos from the day. Choose favorites. Break favorites into two files: For the write/After the write. Name tomorrow’s column. Make title/photo design card. Download design into favorite folder. Finish first draft of column for tomorrow. Answer emails, messages, and questions about my businesses that are closed for the summer.
9:30 PM: Wash dirty clothes from today in the bathroom sink. Hang to dry. They will be dry in 48 hours—at the longest. (Most people go to the laundromat. One volunteer paid $40 to get his clothes washed and folded. No thanks, I brought 4 shirts, 2 pair of pants and 4 tops. I don’t mind washing my clothes by hand.)
9:45 PM: Meditate. Sleep.
Thanks for reading.
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