Today began as a cold and rainy Friday morning. It was a poignant beginning, as I sat in attendance at a fundraising breakfast, “Pass the Plate”, for the Union County Community Shelter, our local shelter, which provides food, shelter, and assistance to the homeless and those citizens who are having trouble making ends meet.
You see, at that moment, I wasn’t thinking about if my order for drapery hardware had landed at the workroom or if the last minute holiday party details were being taken care of for clients. I thought, instead, about how busy the front porch of the shelter would be as many men, women and children would be lining up for the first of three meals, many of them would be partaking of at the shelter’s soup kitchen, while trying to stay dry as they patiently waited admittance. I thought about those who might be inquiring about staying over as one of the temporary residents, while trying to get back on their feet.
As members of the community were enjoying a lovely breakfast and conversations at our tables, we were joined together by our connections to the shelter and to one another – and even more so, by our desire to address the increasing need in our community.
Then, it was time for the speakers. Kathy Bragg, the Executive Director began to share impactful words: lonely, cold, hungry, embarrassed, frightened, broke, sick, tired . . . she was repeating the common ones heard from those seeking help.
As an interior designer, I understand the resonance of a client testimonial. Kathy does, too.
No amount of print material can provide for the real experience of hearing a story, firsthand. Stories of being abandoned by family members, abuse, catastrophic illnesses, losing jobs, losing homes . . . losing hope.
And then . . . just when things seem insurmountable - stories were shared of: achievement, finding a place for shelter, and then a place to live! Stories of getting a PhD! Stories of jobs! Stories of healing. And . . . stories of hope.
The three people in the photos above, shared such stories, this morning. I can’t say enough about how I admire their courage and conviction that things are getting better for them. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate the many vendors who’ve been helping us to refurbish the shelter to create a warmer, safer and nurturing environment. People like Jeff Day, mentioned in yesterday’s post.
There is often a stigma attached to the idea of shelters. Wouldn’t it be great for some of that stigma to be removed? The services that the dedicated director, staff and board members are offering could be done in a place that make people feel good to enter. A place that allows them feel like they’re being welcomed, like home.
We’re on our way! The shelter is becoming a place people like to visit and to share their time and support. The energy is amazing!
Thanks to all of the Gracious Giving from our community and beyond, the Day Room will be completed with love and hope.
If this post compels you to help, please feel free to share a donation. It will mean more than you can know!
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