Last week our church finished up its month of hosting the Bridge Shelter. It's our sixth year of helping with this program. Each year I have signed up for Tuesday and Thursday breakfast shifts. It happened that my last shift was on my birthday. So I started my day dark and early, serving breakfast, handing out lunches, putting away beds, vacuuming the floor, and cleaning up the kitchen after sending our 20 guests out with wishes for a safe and happy day.
Our shelter coordinator for the month summarized some of the facts about the two months that we hosted this year:
We put out 572 mats in November and served/provided over 1,700 meals. In March when we hosted, we put out 409 mats and served/provided over 1,200 meals. This year St. Andrew’s has put out over 980 mats and served/provided over 2,950 meals.
In the first two months of shelter operation this fall, the outreach workers who supervise the shelter have helped 12 guests to permanent housing and 3 into recovery programs. This is the part of the shelter that goes beyond just providing a safe, warm, welcoming place for our brothers and sisters.
Besides this, I believe it changes all of us who help. Being part of this has opened my eyes and my heart and made me less afraid to talk to people whose lives are so different from mine. I have learned that we really are not all that different. I used to be afraid. Now I know that most of the people who we help are much more frightened that we are. Laughing over coffee, sharing encouragement in both directions, we bridge a divide that is much more narrow than I ever imagined. Those figures about how many are fed by the shelter? We could double them, when you consider that we, as hosts, are nourished equally, if not more, by our experience.
So Thursday morning was a happy birthday for me, beginning with toast and peanut butter and coffee and bleach and smiles and jokes, early in the morning.
question: when have you known that you are blessed to be a blessing?
mompoet - until next year...