For the last several weeks, we have worked hard to alter our schedule. My thanks goes out to all of the volunteers that helped make this happen. We now have an “a.m.” shift, when we receive donations, sort clothes and household goods, handle administrative tasks, shelve food and handle furniture pickups and deliveries. Our “p.m.’ shift opens the doors to our guests to help them with their needs. It was no small task to make this transition, and I’m truly grateful for everyone’s help and support.
All of these changes have had me thinking about the time I’ve spent at the Center. I was very fortunate to be able to take early retirement in 2005. I had worked in the IT industry for 28 years in jobs I loved; my work kept a roof over my head and enabled me to put my two sons through college. A month after I retired, I met Sr Isaac at a parish meeting about helping victims of hurricane Katrina. I introduced myself, told her I had some time on my hands and was looking for some volunteer opportunities. She invited me to come down for a visit the next day. On my first day, I toured the facility, then jumped right in. My first job was folding clothes; within the hour, I was asked to help bag food. Shortly after that, I was pulled out to help serve a guest. It was a whirlwind of activity. When the morning was over, I started doing some cleaning. As I drove home that afternoon, I knew in my heart I had found the volunteer opportunity that was a fit for me.
Through the years, I managed the household department, took over the furniture process, organized holiday projects and provided assistance to Sr Isaac. I worked alongside her in the office for several years. While she leaned on me for technical assistance, I was able to learn so much from her. As I sat at my desk doing my work, I was able to hear much of her interaction with our guests. Over time, she invited me to help with some of the interviews. Before working here, I really never understood the struggles of the needy in our community. I had no realization of number of homeless people in town, the impact of drugs on so many families, the lack of sufficient mental health care, and the financial challenges so many face. (As you’ve heard me state before, I still shudder when I see a water bill or electric bill for $500 or more….). When Sister turned 80, I stepped up and offered to move over to her desk to allow her to retire.
The Center isn’t just a place where we hand out groceries, and other goods and send people on their way. The important role we play is to listen with an open heart – spend time with each guest letting them know we care. We listen to their challenges, and celebrate their successes. When a guest walks in the door and anyone on the staff calls them by name, it brings a smile to their face and they know they are welcome.
Please keep our ministry in your prayers.
Special need of the week: Queen size sheets