The Center opened up from our break on Tuesday, January 2nd , a day earlier than usual in anticipation of a crowd of people in need. We were met by 40 guests when we opened the door. They were glad to see us ‘back in business’. Unfortunately, we then had to close again on Wednesday and Thursday due to weather (We close when New Hanover Schools close.)
When I came to church on Sunday, I was expecting the streets to be clear (I guess it was an expectation from my past when I lived in the land of snow blowers, snow plows and an abundance of salt.) It was obvious we’d see another day of school closures on Monday. After talking with a couple of my volunteers, we decided a few of us would venture out and open on Monday, despite the weather. I sent a note to my “Monday” team, told them that three of us would be coming in on Monday and anyone that could drive in safely would be welcome to join us. We opened the doors quite early as there was no need to keep anyone waiting in the cold. A few guests came in at first, and then more volunteers showed up as well. We ended up with about a dozen volunteers, and thirty-four guests (many more than I expected.) It was interesting to see some “networking” going on; when some of the guests arrived and found us open, a few of them called other people to let them know we were open. It was nice to see them watching out for the needs of others.
I personally typically interview about 10 – 12 guests each day for financial assistance. Since so many donors were so generous during the holidays, I’ve been able to stretch my money further and increase the amount of funds I dispense. On that particular cold morning, I set my maximum limit to the side and helped all that were in need. I ended up interviewing 19 people that day.
This storm ended up being mostly an inconvenience to me; it meant I was confined to my home for several days, stuck watching too much tv and eating comfort food. But it didn’t cause me any real problem – my heat stayed on and kept me quite comfortable, my car was safely parked in the garage, I had plenty of food in the house, my pipes didn’t freeze, and I didn’t lose any income.
That wasn’t the case with so many of our guests – they were short on food, they lost income from all the days they couldn’t work, they weren’t warm, many were sick, many didn’t have shelter. I can’t imagine how the homeless managed during that spell of weather.
Thanks to the support of all our donors and volunteers, we’ll continue to reach out and help as many as we can in the coming weeks. Blessings to everyone that keeps this ministry going!!!