The Center has been extremely busy for the last several weeks. We’ve been bringing on lots of new volunteers and I’m really pleased with all the responses to my pleas for help – we really need to build up the staff to handle all the guests. I’ve been giving group tours recently and that’s been working out quite well; we always have room for new volunteers and I’ll continue to offer tours as needed.
As ‘advertised’, we open for business at 9am each morning. I actually open the doors about 8:45 to let in the initial crowd; this gets them out of the weather and it gives us a head start to pull their files and get ready to serve them. I always let in everyone that arrives by 9am as promised, but if we hit our max of 35 after nine we put up our “Closed” sign and often have to turn several people away. That’s why I always advise any callers to arrive by 9 to be sure they can get in; if there are more than 35 before the clock strikes 9, so be it, and we let them all in.
With the weather turning colder, there’s many requests for warm clothing and blankets. A young man came to the door after hours the other day; he was homeless, and was staying outdoors. I found a new tent for him and he was grateful; personally, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be sleeping outside with the cold weather we’ve been having.
As you can imagine, I hear many stories of the challenges our guests are having. Many are dealing with health issues for themselves or family members; I helped a woman this morning that was short on funds because she’s been taking her young son to Duke for treatments and her money has been going towards transportation costs. She just found out that they are able to offer her assistance for those expenses; it’s unfortunate she didn’t learn that sooner. A few weeks ago, I overheard one of my volunteers interviewing a woman that had found a place to live, but it was in need of some fixing up; she made a deal with the landlord to do some of the work for a reduction in her rent. I heard her ask her worker for a toilet seat, not something we usually hear requests for. I jumped into the conversation and told her we rarely have any but I’d go to the back in search of one. I looked around, and there was none to be found. She had been very emotional when she made her request, so I decided to make an extra effort to help her. I called the Habitat Restore to see if they had one; they checked their stock and told me that happened to have only one, and it would be $5.00. I told them to hold it for me, and I sent one of my volunteers over to make the purchase. The Restore ended up giving it to us for free. When it arrived, I brought it to the guest. She leaped out of her chair and gave me one of the biggest bear hugs I’ve received; with tears in her eyes, she thanked me profusely and told me that now she and her kids would be able to use the bathroom. I had to step away into the hallway for fear of losing my composure. Oh, the things in life we take for granted.
Special Need of the Week – Thinking about participating in one of our Christmas projects. Take a leaf off the tree, fill a shoebox for an elder or drop off a new toy for our Christmas Room.