Monday, June 28, 2010

Of God and Sleeping Bags

Jack was on his way to a job in Alaska on a fishing boat, but he was still in town gathering supplies he would need to have on hand for his job. He had patiently and industriously acquired everything he needed, and with his ferry ticket in hand; all he lacked was a sleeping bag. Try as we might, we could not find one in Hope House (sleeping bags and blankets are precious commodities!), but Jack was ok with that and resigned to having to get one somewhere else.

“Is it ok if I just sit and have some coffee?” he asked quietly. Since we are all about community at Hope House and since Jack is a very nice man and a favorite of ours, we said of course he could. As we went about our duties, helping others, checking families in and out, distributing hygiene items and diapers, food and socks, Jack sat in the center of it all, contemplating where to go next.

As I handed another family a bag of food from the kitchen, I heard a quiet knock on the back door, where all our donations come through. When I opened it, a parishioner stood there with a sleeping bag in each hand! “God bless you!” I practically yelled at the startled woman, who replied that she had noticed our needs board and brought them in for us. I’m sure she thought I was crazy because I was so excited.

Thanking her, I turned to the front of the house, called Jack’s name and held up the sleeping bags. I wish you could have seen his face! It had to have been reflecting the excitement and joy in mine, I am sure.

This is not an isolated occurrence at Hope House—oh no, this happens regularly. We call them “Godshots” –direct, divine intervention in the lives of those that we serve. It has been happening since we opened 10 years ago:

• A mother with newborn twins needing diapers we didn’t have—someone walks in the front door with a Costco size box.
• A disabled teen who needs adult diapers—someone donated 6 cases!
• We need food—it pours through the back door.

I could go on and on—seriously, it happens so frequently that one time as I stood in front of the bookcase with children’s books in it, and mused that we needed more books; one of the volunteers standing next to me moved quickly away several feet from me. I asked her what she was doing and she replied “any day now He is just going to start throwing them down to you!”

The sign in our intake room reads:

“I am of the opinion that if you are doing God’s work, it is God’s job to take care of you.”

That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cars and Cookies

“Maybe you should have a car wash to raise some money,” he said, looking excited at his idea. John and his wife were waiting for their intake interview and chatting with other clients and volunteers while they waited. He was responding to my concern about our low inventory of food. We have recently partnered with the Bellingham Food Bank and are receiving food from their stock, but the need seems to be increasing in leaps.

“You could have all of us help—hang up a sign-up sheet and we can help. Or you could have a bake sale—my wife is a real good baker!” Responding to his enthusiasm, I suggested we combine the bake sale with the car wash—double our profit and give people something to eat while their car is being washed. Several clients waiting chimed in with affirmations of their interest in the project.

Our clients are increasingly sharing their meager resources with each other by donating to Hope House when they can. Everyone who comes to Hope House comes for a reason; volunteers come to find an outlet for their need to give, clients come in need of assistance or just for human contact, and those who donate do so for many reasons, depending on where they are in their lives. The reasons are as varied as the many, many people who pass through Hope House in a given month.

So, with summer coming, a big parking lot behind us and some willing clients and volunteers—we may be having a car wash/bake sale this summer—stay tuned!