Monday, July 11, 2016
Today, I am spotlighting a “guest” writer—one of our faithful volunteers, Ann Edmonds. Enjoy!
Cheri, On Friday, July 8, I witnessed several wide and beautiful smiles of satisfaction and pleasure. She is angular, south of Mexico. Each year, she comes. Each year she has another little one. This year too, she is pregnant. She and her children are quiet. They play. She shops carefully.
On Friday, she followed me outside to the shed. She asked if we could use food. Yes, I said, if it's not produce. She had rice, beans, canned foods. They were leaving for California and had no room to take the food.
I must have looked stricken at her departure because she smiled and said she'd be back next year, and with the new little one too.
I helped her carry the so heavy bags. Pregnant, compact, tough and strong, she grinned at me out in the parking lot. She took two to one of mine!
She filled out a receipt. She wrote proudly and confidently, it seemed to me. She seemed pleased to be giving Hope House something useful for other people.
I thought you might like that story, Cheri. It epitomizes for me the generosity and joy of the so called neediest among us. I smile as I remember her face.
Thank you, Ann, for sharing this moment of grace with us!
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Every morning at Hope House we gather in prayer before we open our doors. We pray for guidance, kindness and compassion and to be able to see the Christ in each person who comes through our doors. Not many “rules” are written in stone at Hope House, but the need for understanding that we are serving the body of Christ is of utmost importance. It is our guiding principle, and all who work here need to embrace that truth.
Last Sunday at Mass, Father Scott’s homily so perfectly fit this philosophy that I had to borrow it—hope he doesn’t mind! He told of standing in front of a class of middle school children and holding up a $20 bill. He asked who would want it, and of course they all raised their hands – who wouldn’t? It was worth $20, after all! He then tore the bill almost in half and asked them again—all still wanted it. He crumpled it up into a ball—still they raised their hands. After rubbing it in the dirt, crumpling it up and stepping on it, he asked again and they all still wanted it. When he asked why they still wanted it, the reply was—“it’s still worth $20!”
Of course, it was. So are we still worth everything to God, even when we are torn and dirty, damaged and crumpled—we are still His children, each and every one of us. Those of us with bad attitudes, dirty clothing, addictions, secret vices and anger/hatred in our heart are still His children and He doesn’t give up on us. During the homily, Father Scott asked us “Who are you to God?” Surprisingly to me, a voice in my head immediately said “His beloved” and my eyes filled with tears. As I am His beloved, so are you and all the people you meet. May we always remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and children of God.
“Each individual person has been created to love and to be loved: Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Christian doesn't matter race, doesn't matter religion. Every single man, woman, child is the child of God, created in the image of God.” Mother Theresa
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
They were really cute—peeking around the corner of my office door with shy grins. One was wearing a dress with Elsa on it and a tiny tiara in her hair, and the other one had the biggest brown eyes and widest smile! Two adorable girls, about 6 years old, shopping with their moms, and having fun together. As they gazed at my bulletin board display of pictures of my grandchildren, one of them asked if all my grandchildren had the same clothing (we had a professional picture of them all together in matching clothes!). As I chuckled, the other one noticed the collection of stuffed and toy mice on the windowsill above my desk. There is an explanation for that, which I gave to them; Hope House is an old house, falling apart, with many holes and loose siding, etc. we have struggled over the last couple of years with a mouse problem, and I have waged a war on mice! It appears that, for now anyway, I have won, and as I explained all of this to them, they started looking around apprehensively. When I assured them there are no mice here now, the princess murmured “a little creepy” as she left with her mom.
This old house has many problems and we are holding on for our new one, patching and band aiding it as we go. In addition to mice, we have had fly infestations (this was Phil Corrigan’s personal battle, lol!), along with a squirrel issue. When you come in to the empty house early in the morning and walk to the bottom of the stairs and see something furry run across the upper hall, it kind of makes you want to stay downstairs! Luckily, we found the entrances for them and blocked them. The last one we found was by accident, on a busy morning when we were open. The old fireplace in our waiting area was largely ignored for years, then one morning we heard a growling sound from that area. When we approached the fireplace, it grew louder and we could see a squirrel in it. Since it was not leaving, we decided to form a pathway by blocking everything off with chairs, ending at the front door, about 12 feet away. Keep in mind that we had clients in the house helping us! We then used a broom to get him out of the fireplace; with the hope he would follow the path out the door. Well, he had a mind of his own and wasn’t ready to leave, so he jumped over the chairs and headed deeper into Hope House, running past people’s legs and from room to room. Hysteria prevailed, along with tons of laughter. We finally cornered him in the kitchen (after he ran up one side and down the other of a staff member!), and got him out the back door to freedom. Whew! To this day, I have never heard that much laughter at once in Hope House. It is one of my favorite memories.
So while we are looking forward to a new building, the wonderful memories made in this old one will last forever. J
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
I know it’s been awhile since I last blogged—we have been super busy at Hope House! Sometimes so much is happening that while I may tell myself in the moment “blog this!” I completely forget by the time I get to my computer for some quiet time. One recurring business is the “new” Hope House we are hoping to build next year. Lots of time and energy, presentations and meetings have gone into this lately and I have been so excited at the progress being made. So imagine my distress when I hear some in leadership roles express that we may have to wait another year to actually do this. I can’t express my disappointment at this lack of energy—my soul feels wounded somehow, but I am putting my faith in the only sure thing I know—prayer. I am not giving up on a new Hope House next year and neither is God. In the meantime, I am also focusing my thoughts on the wonderful memories this place has given me. When I think of Hope House, this is what I think of:
· Sunny spring and summer days like today---clients sitting out front, chatting while waiting for us to open. Staff bustling around, getting everything stocked and ready. Windows open and the sound of birds singing.
· And conversely, cold, dark winter days, wind blowing and clients coming in shivering, grateful for the hot coffee and fresh cookies and warmth. It’s rewarding to offer warm hats, gloves and blankets during these times.
· The sound of babies “talking”, toddlers running and moms chatting in our waiting room. When you peek out there, children are coloring, someone is reading a book to the kids and everyone has a cookie in their hand!
· From my office, I often hear the staff offering to search for items that our clients are in need of, running upstairs and out to our shed to try to locate a blanket, some socks or a coat. Our staff have also been known to purchase something for a particular person that they know is in need of it.
· The faces of the Assumption school children joyfully passing cans of food hand to hand from the church to our shed each year at Thanksgiving. Even when it is cold and windy, they smile and have fun with it.
· The homeless men and women who have found a “family” here at Hope House. The few we worry most about—my adopted “sons”!! When they’re sick, when we haven’t seen them for a while—I worry, and pray and they always come back!
· Then there is Christmas---the incredible generosity of the families, organizations and businesses that “adopt” a Hope House family and make a Christmas for them. I wish I could show everyone the eyes of the children who see the boxe(s) of gifts to take home!
· Clients who connect here—we have one couple who met here and are now married! I love chatting with my clients, watching their children grow, celebrating their victories and praying for their sorrows.
· My volunteers---I cannot say enough about the wonderful people who choose to spend time here each week, reaching out with such love and compassion! They are amazing and always step up when needed, serve with love and keep smiles on their faces. I love each and every one of them!
So, wounded soul aside, I will keep up the good fight, keep praying and keep enjoying the special blessing this place is in my life.
Thank you, God, for Hope House.
Friday, February 5, 2016
She is a small, quiet woman with a big smile and a friendly and gracious heart. Fridays are her preferred shopping day at Hope House, and she arrives early, rain or shine, to be one of the first in line. We open at noon and she is often on our front porch by 8am, sitting quietly with a good book or chatting with those others who have begun to come and join her for a Friday morning social time. Rules are important to “Sally”, and she polices the crowd that gathers closer to our open hours, making sure everyone knows their place in line and there is no cutting in line with Sally around! I have jokingly told her I am going to put her to work as a personal shopper for others, since she is so good at finding what they need and what would look good on them. Sally cares about others, shares her kindness and sweetness at will and is well loved here at Hope House. The occasional gift of her Asian food is a real treat to those who love sushi. Sally is a big part of our Hope House family, a beloved grandmother to many of our clients and a shining star in our universe.
My Fridays are marked by opening that front door at noon to
Sally’s smiling face, helping to make the chaos of Friday more bearable. Two days
ago, Sally was struck by a car while crossing a nearby street in the evening. She
has suffered massive injuries and is in critical condition at the local
hospital. My Friday is not the same, everything seems “off” and many of our
staff and clients are distraught at the news. We are heartily praying for her
and hope more than anything to see her smiling face at our door again in the
Please pray for
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
It’s a busy day for a Tuesday here at Hope House—a sign of the holidays fast approaching. I have been trying all morning to get a few minutes in front of my computer to write this blog, and here I am, 2 hours after I planned on doing it! Read on to see why this blog was important for me to put out there.
On a busy, standing room only day last week, with the front door staying open to handle the overflow of people, I came out to get my next client for intake and discovered it was “Jim”, a familiar face. Jim has advanced Parkinson’s and has a great amount of difficulty standing, walking and doing most anything, due to the constant tremors and jerking of his body. As I called his name, I found him in a chair by the window and after struggling for a minute, he asked me to go on to someone else while he tried to get his body to work. He often does this, and is usually able to come in just a few minutes later. Sure enough, 3 clients later, he waved and indicated he was ready for the struggle. As I helped him to his feet, several other clients also reached out with assistance and cleared a path for him.
So I was already tearing up over this situation, but get this—when I asked him if he had a walker or something to help him walk, he stated it was outside because he didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. I immediately shouted to the people on the porch and the stairs and asked if there was a walker out there. Before the words were out of my mouth, it was being passed overhead from hand to hand to Jim. Helping hands, clearing a path, bringing in his walker—our clients (no, they really are family members for us at Hope House) reached out with kindness to this elderly and frail man. I love our “family” here at Hope House. Whatever the dictionary says a family is—we have a new meaning here at Hope House.
You may think we are giving to our clients, but I can tell you, they give to us as well!