Monday evening during Orientation, Suzie told us this parable:
One day, an old man was walking along the beach in the early morning and
noticed what appeared to be thousands of starfish washed up on the
shore. Up ahead in the distance, he spotted a boy who appeared to be
gathering up the starfish and tossing them, one by one, back into the
Overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of the suffering creatures, the old
man just stood and watched as the boy picked up another starfish, and
yet another, releasing them in the healing safety of the cool green
water. Finally, he approached the boy and asked him why he spent so
much energy doing what seemed to be a waste of time.
The boy replied, "If these starfish are left out here like this, they
will bake in the sun, and by this afternoon all of them will be dead."
The old man gazed out as far as he could see and responded, "But, there
must be hundreds of miles of beach and thousands of starfish. You can't
possibly rescue all of them. What difference is throwing a few back
going to make, anyway?"
The boy then held up the starfish he had in his hand and threw it to
safety in the waves and replied, "It made a difference to that one!"
I'd heard that story before, but it was very appropriate for this week of work on what seems to be an overwhelming task, and I heard many volunteers throughout the week referring to the story during their work.