What a Beautiful (but VERY cold!!) weekend. Snow flurries whirling around everywhere and Christmas decorations going up all over the place.
Given my current (unfortunate, sometimes seemingly lousy) situation, I've used the mental picture of me and the 3 dogs living in a refrigerator box as a coping mechanism. With most things, I tend to look at my worst case scenario and if I can handle that, all else is fine. In reality, I am so very blessed. I know there are many people that would take me in if I really needed it (now don't be scared...don't say it if you don't mean it!!). I whine because things aren't as I would like them to be while I work through this. I whine when I have to park really far from the front door of a restaurant or store and the wind is whipping in my face. I whine because I can't spend $20 on a bottle of wine without feeling guilty for 2 weeks. I whine about a lot of things. I think we all do. It makes us feel better somehow!
The truth of the matter is - I've never had to go without basic human needs. Most of us haven't and most of us will never really know what that's like.
Last winter while I was thinking about this, I came across some information on the Cold Weather Shelter in Frederick. It's a homeless shelter that's open during the night (6:30pm until 7am) from December - March. I hate cold. I know, I'm not normally that dramatic, but it's true. I do not like cold AT ALL (remember the running gear post from last month). Thinking about people not having a place to go to keep warm...I can't even imagine. Giving money is one thing, but providing the basic human need of shelter? I felt a draw to help. But I was too late when I finally came around to deciding to do this that I missed out.
That brings us to now. As soon as I had to turn on the heat in the house, that same thought jumped into my head and I called and registered to attend a volunteer training. The training was on Saturday morning. That's the hour where sadness and joy both filled me equally - somehow, as weird as that seems, it's possible.
The sadness is obvious. Seeing the reality of people's lives. The people that come to this shelter have no where else to go. They own the clothes on their back (some, one clear tub of personal things that they store a at the shelter so they don't appear homeless bringing all of their belongings to work). They have no one to take them in. The pull on me was incredible. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't realize how hard. Now, I'm not naive. I know some people are homeless because they are criminals, thieves, druggies, whatever. BUT, there are so many that aren't any of those things. There are so many people that have NO WHERE TO GO. And it's cold. And it's going to get colder.
I've tried time and time again to actually imagine this. But I can't. Since I have a roof over my head and heat, I think the least I can do is help those that don't.
This is where the joy comes in. The room of people at the volunteer training was PACKED! Not full...PACKED. I'm pretty sure it was a fire hazard. Sixty people showed up when 20 were expected. Now, you were supposed to register so they knew how many people to expect.....but I digress, that's another subject. At least they were there. All of those people wanted to help. All of those people were willing to drive their cars into downtown Frederick in a back alley area to work from 9pm until midnight to help people...to hand them a blanket and pillow and assign them a bed, to sign them up on a list for a time to take a warm shower, to provide them with some coffee and some friendly conversation, to give them a pack of clean socks, underwear and a t-shirt. I was so moved.
I know there is a lot of bad in our world. A lot. There might possibly be more bad than good, but Saturday showed me that there really is still some good out there. A lot of good.
With all of that said, there are SO many opportunities to give of your money, time and talents, whatever it is you have to spare. I just like to share the things I'm involved in for some suggestions.
Take a couple of minutes to be thankful of all you have, even when it seems like you have nothing.