There is in all work of service a deep soul — something that has called those who participate in it and sustains it. Tangible and visible, whose objects  had been brought by nurses, doctors, telephone operators, cleaning women, file clerks, social workers, to name a few, but it is not possible to tell what had been placed there, because in a few hours these people had gone beyond their expertise.

It is in another way of life, a recognition of your real value and power. It is independent of any role that you have been given to play or the expertise you have acquired, possible to diminish the life around you in almost any role.

A man called Rudy

He was more known as Rodolfo Lacson Tirona, recently retired after serving 43 years at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Rudy worked in various county departments and spent most of his years for the Los Angeles County+University of Southern California Medical Center as a Patient Finance Service Control worker. The story of how his family got to America is also inspiring, where everyone and everything is caught in the pressure of survival of the fittest, with courage and resolve to pursue and accomplish your goal.

“Every life is unique and with purpose, all you need is a clear head and a kind heart. Service — true service — is a relationship between people who bring the full resources of their combined humanity to the table and share their generosity.”

With those words, our conversation flourished and the ice was broken. We had distinctly asked him, what “service” was all about (over coffee a recent afternoon), the only topic we had chosen.

“Mr. Tirona, what to you is the true meaning of service?,” I asked.

“When we help, it is not really service it is hard not to see someone weaker than yourself, but someone more needy.  When we help, we become aware of our strength because we are using it, we do not serve with strength  but with ourselves drawing form all our experiences.  Service is a relationship between equals, free from debt. In helping, we may find a sense of satisfaction.  In serving we have an experience in gratitude. All who serve, serve life,” he said

To follow up my first question, I asked, “Mr. Tirona, you said earlier, only service heals, could you amplify?”

“All who serve, serve life, something worthy of our attention, the ultimate commitment of our time, our lives,” he started and then added, “You see, Mylah, service is not about fixing life, outwitting life, manipulating life, controlling life or struggling to gain mastery over life. When we serve life, you discover a lot of other things. Service is closer to generosity than it is to duty. It connects us to one another and to life itself. Servicing others becomes the natural and joyful thing, as we experience our connectedness over the long run, fixing and helping are draining, but service is renewing: when you serve, your work itself will sustain you, renew you, bless you after over many years… and that is what I am looking at, on my retirement.

“We already know that professionalism has embedded in service a certain distance, but on its deepest level, the service I have experienced in my personal battle with cancer, is an experience of connection to others and to the world around us, a connection that gives us the power to bless the life in others.

“Service has a life of its own, a single act of kindness may have a long trajectory and touch those we will never meet or see.”


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