Gilroy Garlic Festival and Mental Health

Well as of this post there are 28 days til the 39th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival and my mouth is watering, heart is racing and excitement is building. When I first volunteered in 1986, I never thought that 30 years later I would have the honor of serving as the 39th President of the festival. There are so many great, hard-working and committed volunteers that have poured out their hearts, and rolled up their sleeves to make this community phenomenon what it is today. This year we will be able to secure the Guinness World Record for the Official World’s Largest Garlic Festival, and I am so proud to be part of the unique legacy this city has produced. If it were not for the tenacity of our volunteers over the years, millions of dollars and thousands of community service hours, which promote the general health and wellbeing of our city, we would have been left lacking in so many areas. What does the Gilroy Garlic Festival and Mental Health have to do with each other? So why volunteer and why participate? Why did I choose to take on such a laborious role? As a Marriage and Family Therapist, let me share some thoughts…

  1. VOLUNTEERING IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL – We are part of something larger than ourselves when we can put aside differences, work with each others quirks and roll up our sleeves together for something that contributes to others. Service is a way of getting out of yourself and your immediate world and linking to neighbors and relating with others to help accomplish great things.
  2. GIVE BACK THROUGH TIME AND TALENT- Gratitude is one of the best perspectives when it comes to working with your neighbors and fellow community members. When we show up and say, “I want to help, how can I help and what do you need?”, our collective energy and attitude allows us bond. Washing dishes, collecting trash, parking cars, loading buses, selling food and greeting visitors is something most of us can do. When we do it from a place of giving back, we create a community of people committed to hard work, fun and generosity. It is this recipe that makes the fibers of our relationships healthy and creates an immune system.
  3. THE IMMUNITY OF THE COMMUNITY- Since the festival has a tradition of giving back to local charities based on every volunteer hour worked, the profits of each year gets distributed to sports teams, churches, schools, animal shelters, international clubs and the list goes on. When hundreds of thousands of dollars seeps back to our city’s organic groups, based on the ownership and care of our local citizens, something exponential happens. We raise the water level and all the boats float. Everyone begins to prosper, life regenerates through these groups and hence an immune system is built, raising us out of crime, poverty, isolation and silos of self-interest. When a communities’ immune system is strong the most vulnerable¬†are protected in greater ways and all our gifts can grow.

These are some of the reasons why I chose to volunteer as the 2017 Garlic Festival President for this year and am working hard for this community. There is still much left to do and experience for the greater good. Garlic is so healthy and favor-full. Add a few hours of working alongside with your neighbors and the taste is simply transforming.

Gilroy Garlic Festival and Mental Health!

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