“Love all. Serve all. Help ever. Hurt never.” Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Born in Newark, New Jersey, our featured volunteer of the month, Mr. Douglas Lavery, spent most of his childhood near Pittsburg, PA. When I asked if he recalled ever going through any type of adverse experiences which might have caused trauma from his childhood to manifest itself in his adulthood, he giggled sarcastically and stated that he did not remember having any bad childhood memories besides maybe a bad car accident. 

“Being the first of two children, I really had an ideal childhood,” Lavery says. With protestant parents who believed in freedom of expression and the ability to choose the religion you want, our featured volunteer of the month spent most of his childhood questioning all religious beliefs.  As he went on to college, Mr. Lavery started to seek more understanding of the concept of God. 

When the science he was studying was no longer able to make sense of things that could not be explained by human intelligence, Mr. Lavery started his journey toward embracing and understanding the spirituality within us. “It dawned on me that we have no answers for how the smallest molecules were created,” he says. With this shift happening in his life, Mr. Lavery stopped reading scientific books and dove into studies of the Bible, the Koran, Buddhism, and Hinduism. 

After graduation Mr. Douglas Lavery got married and began a long career as an electrician. Sadly, after 30 years of marriage about four years ago, our featured volunteer of the month, Mr. Douglas Lavery, went through a divorce. With a desire to just be free, Mr. Douglas Lavery let go of all materialistic ties to his ex-wife and decided to turn over a new leaf with a clean slate.  

For the first time in Mr. Lavery’s life, he felt as though there was nothing more that drove him toward any specific goals. After traveling 40,000 miles over two years, Mr. Lavery found himself stuck in Harrisonburg after being charged with a DUI. He was detained for two months with no bond.  “Upon my release, the first place everyone flocked was to the Salvation Army,” Mr. Lavery says, so he also flocked there. “Early in the morning, we were asked to leave. I didn’t know anything about this area so I just followed where everybody else was headed.” 

These individuals were heading to Our Community Place. Currently, our featured volunteer of the month wants the public to know that he is happy with who he is since he has nothing. No burden, no weight on his shoulders. “After doing all the reading, it pointed to me to look at the ‘higher power’ as other people call it. I call it checking in with God,” Mr. Lavery says. 

“I’ve reached a point where when someone asks me what’s next, I have lost the desire to earn things. I don’t want to put my energy into things that will only be temporary here on earth.” When he left and gave everything away four years ago, this was the first time that he felt as he didn’t have any goals desire, nor wants. There was nothing driving him in a particular direction. He is free to move with the wind. “When there is nothing I ever need or want, I realized I was comfortable serving and coming to OCP to give back to the place I call home.