Most of the guests we serve at the Center are very grateful for anything we are able to provide to them. We elicit smiles when we find them a nice outfit or a warm coat or a comforter or pots and pans or some other item they requested. Lately, we’ve been able to be very generous with the food we can provide thanks to many donations and increased volumes of food from the foodbank. Volunteers love to find a toy or special treat to offer to a little child and see them smile.
We’ve seen guests shed tears of joy on many occasions: thankful for receiving a bed so they don’t have to sleep on the floor; grateful for a pair of work boots so they can find employment; assistance with their rent payment that means avoiding eviction; having their water turned back on after being without it for months. We all feel just as happy knowing we were able to be of help and sometimes we shed a tear, too.
Every now and then, we serve a guest that doesn’t appear to be so grateful. Perhaps they didn’t like the clothes we picked out; or maybe they were disappointed with the food in their bag; they might challenge us if we didn’t find the household items they requested. They might be quick to criticize us or express their displeasure. While these guests might be the most difficult to work with, in fact they are the ones that need our help and understanding the most. Their reactions are symptoms of other things going on in their lives.
The people we serve face struggles that most of us will never know in our lifetime: bedbugs, lack of sleep due to poor living conditions, hunger, inadequate access to healthcare, victims of violence, poor nutrition, homelessness, mental health issues, chronic illnesses and the list goes on and on. We often see people that stay in recovery houses; many of these are persons we wouldn’t normally think of as those in need, but addictions can wreak havoc on lives. As one of our new volunteers reminded me, “addictions don’t discriminate”.
Poverty takes a toll on people. While most of our guests are doing their best to try and deal with their challenges, some just can’t handle it anymore, and they end up acting out as a result. Some are having a bad day; some have never ending bad days. Our volunteers face a challenge to help them but we do our best.
Please keep our ministry and our guests in your prayers.