I feel like I’ve struggled to fit in my entire life.

I have always felt a little bit like a round peg in a square hole.

I have a lot of acquaintances, but very few really true friends.

Before traveling full-time, I was heavily involved in our community.  In addition to running my own nonprofit organization, I also served on several other community and nonprofit boards.  But honestly, other than my service on the Berks County Latino Chamber of Commerce board, I never really felt a part of our community.

Maybe it’s because I see things differently than most people.  Perhaps people misunderstand my introverted personality.  I’ve written about this in previous blogs.

Maybe it’s because so many people left me when I needed them at the most difficult times of my life.  I can’t really say for sure; I just know how I have felt.

The other strange thing is the places and people where I do feel most comfortable are the places and people that society would tell me I shouldn’t fit in with.  Although throughout my adult life, I have put myself in situations where I was with people who didn’t necessarily look like me.

For instance, when I served on the board of the Berks County Latino Chamber of Commerce, it was like a family to me.  From an outsider’s point of view, I didn’t belong.  I was the only Anglo-Saxon on the board.  I was the only board member who didn’t speak Spanish.  But what we did have in common was a love for trying to make our community better and more inclusive.  The other board members welcomed me with open arms from day one.  Other than our family, being involved with that organization is one of the few things that I miss about our old hometown.

I’m advocate for females in sport.  So again, I often enter a space where it’s like, “one of these things isn’t like the others.”  Once I’m in the room though, even though an outsider may think that I’m the oddball, I feel right at home.  With a few exceptions, most of my closest friends are females.

I’ve fit in with people that our societal norms would say that I shouldn’t fit in with and feel very much out of place in those situations where society would say that I should fit in.

I’m perfectly fine with that.

On the other hand, in our RV community – I definitely feel like I belong.  It’s hard to explain sometimes, but this is a special community.  I guess you could say it’s a community on wheels.

Perhaps it’s the volunteer opportunities that we’ve had.  Perhaps it’s being able to visit and reconnect with so many people that we love.  I’m not exactly sure, but we’ve been able to put ourselves in situations where we are surrounded by amazing people.

Whether it was when we were at the Dream Center for a month, the CAP Kid Camp, or any of our Y2V projects, I finally felt like I belonged.

This feeling of belonging was reiterated on our recent trip to Houston to get our RV serviced.

On our way through Mississippi, we found that we were close to the area that Y2V was doing their first project of 2022.  We took a couple of little hikes in the morning and posted some pictures on Facebook.  Sandy and I both thought about reaching out to Shar to see if they could use a couple of extra hands for a day.  We literally had an extra day to kill.  We didn’t reach out to her because we didn’t want to be a bother.  We knew that Phil was in the Netherlands with his father and we figured that Shar had more than enough on her plate and thought that one more moving part would just be an unneeded distraction.

Our assumption was dead wrong.

As we were at a Pilot fueling up and getting ready to head to the Western Mississippi Welcome Center for the night, we got a text from Shar.  She got wind that we were near by from some other volunteers who had seen our Facebook post and told us that if we had the time, we needed to get to the project.  We had the time, now we had to make the decision as to whether we’d drive 30 miles back east to the project or 30 miles west to the welcome center.  We decided to head east.

Shar met us at the entrance of the site and made it crystal clear to us that we should never feel like we’d be a bother.

By the time that we picked out our site and started to back in, a group of other volunteers, some who we already knew and others who we had not yet met, had already started to move the picnic table off of our pad so that we could get into our spot.  It was a welcome committee in true Y2V fashion!

We got out and were greeted with hugs, handshakes and smiles.

We knew that we belonged.

Once we made our way over to the campfire circle, Shar introduced us to the group.  Everyone was so welcoming.

We knew that we belonged.

The next day, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.  It was a hot and exhausting day, but so incredibly fulfilling.

We celebrated Mardi Gras with the group in the evening.  Our original plan was to pull out that evening, but we decided to get a good night’s sleep and start our leg to Sulfur, Louisiana first thing in the morning.

Before heading to Houston, we were stopping to see our friends Lori and Tom Pritchett in Sulfur.

We got there about 2 PM and were welcomed with hugs.

We knew that we belonged.

Lori reached out to one of our other friends in the area, Jennie Finch to let her know that we were at her house.

Jennie was finishing up at Sam’s Club and had to soon start her daily routine of shuttling her kids to and from their many activities.  She responded to Lori’s text by saying that she was “coming in hot” to catch a quick visit with us.

We knew that we belonged.

Those two fast visits with friends in Mississippi and Louisiana on our way to Houston were short, but very fulfilling.  Proof that quality is greater than quantity.

We knew that we belonged.