A homeless man showed up at the office today on his bicycle. He had on shorts, a baseball cap, worn out sneakers and carried a small duffel bag. He said his name was Dave and that he needed some sneakers. Upon closer examination, his sneakers had large holes in them and were worn through. As he explained his philosophy of greed and the western world, I found myself wondering how someone like Dave could survive. He lives in the woods and chooses to stay there. I offered alternatives for housing and Dave said all he wanted were shoes without holes. There were some donated clothes in the church and I found Dave a pair of sneakers about his size. I wanted to do so much more for him - to find him a place to stay. Dave took the sneakers, said thank you and got back on his bike. I don't know if I will see Dave again, but I hope we made a connection so that he knows this is a safe place where he can get some help.
Listening is An Act of Love
As I walked into the room at St. Teresa's Rehabilitation and Nursing Home, the face of one of patients lit up.
"Are you the sister who works at Mt. Carmel?"
"Yes," I said.
"My sister was a patient at Mt. Carmel Rehabilitation and Nursing Home and now here I am at St. Teresa's meeting you! What a coincidence!" she exclaimed.
After a long sharing of her love for her sister and her family, Mary says to me, "You are listening to me and trying to help me, Sister. I am forever grateful. You are sent to me by God." For many weeks I have been sharing with this wonderful woman who needed love as her sister had passed away. She needed to grieve and I was there to lend a listening ear. Since then, our friendship has grown. Mary's life has improved physically, emotionally and spiritually. At the present time, I am convinced that God placed her on my way because she needed to open up to someone and grieve the love she had for her sister. Deo Gratias!
Our Burden to Bear
When I told the girls that I was going to have minor surgery on a tendon, one of the eight year old girls came up and hugged me and burst into tears. I reassured her that I would be okay, but she continued to be very upset until she suddenly had an idea.
She said, “I know, Sister. I will let you take my bear and he will help you to get better.”
When she was getting ready for overnights at her new family’s home, I said, “You know your bear really helped me and now I am getting better. Do you want to take him back so you can bring him on your visit?” She was very happy to have the bear back in her company.
When this little girl first came she would not share with anyone. From this little incident I saw that despite all of her post-traumatic issues, this little girl is being healed as she moves from selfishness to self-giving. I know she is ready now for her new family.
- Story from St. Charles Children's Home
From Russia with Love
Karina came to OUR PLACE a few months after arriving in the U.S. as a refugee from Russia. She was married and expecting her first child in just 2 weeks. Initially her English was very limited, so a Russian translator helped with her early visits. Staff modified the curriculum to meet the client’s needs. She was very quickly prepared for childbirth and two weeks later she delivered a healthy baby girl. After delivery the client received postpartum education and continued working with the social worker to develop knowledge and skills necessary for parenting. Over time, Karina took English as a Second Language classes and was able to attend OUR PLACE visits without the need of a translator.
As with all clients, the social worker also focused on vocational goals for Karina. Karina's desire was to become an LNA. She received much encouragement in this area from the OUR PLACE staff and was referred to N.H. Works, which enabled her to receive training to become an LNA. It was a proud day for all of us when she received her LNA, but she soon found that due to low job availability, finding an LNA position was going to be a challenge. After several unsuccessful attempts to secure a position, the social worker referred her to St. Teresa’s Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center for an interview. Karina was hired and overjoyed to have a full-time job with health benefits for her and her family. Since then, she has reported that she absolutely loves her new job and all the staff at St. Teresa, especially the fact that they all work as a team and help each other whenever needed.
Karina has grown in so many ways since her arrival at OUR PLACE. She continues to come for monthly parenting education sessions knowing that “knowledge is power” as she strives to be the best mom she can be. Grateful for her experience at OUR PLACE, she now serves as a translator for other Russian clients in need of support from OUR PLACE.
An Education in Generosity
One day, a college student phoned the local district office - she was pregnant and in need of assistance. While she was able to receive pre-natal care and had a place to live, she wasnt able to get the essential larger items (crib, changing table, etc) for the baby. The baby wasn’t due for seven months so I told her I would keep in touch as the due date got closer and over time various items were donated.
In May, a parish donated a lovely dresser and a crib, which we offered to store until she got her own place. Shortly thereafter we received wonderful news from another young mom who was expecting her second child. She got the news that her upcoming arrival would be a daughter and that her older child will soon be a big brother. This very generous mom wanted to know if I knew anyone expecting a boy, since she would not be needing her son's baby clothes. When I picked up the clothes, they were all sorted according to ages: 0-3 mo; 3-6 mo; 6-9 mo; 9-12 mo. As I went through the many items I was overwhelmed with how many bibs one little guy could have (many of which were still in perfect condition!).
Later, the young college student arrived with her Mom and Dad. Thank heavens they borrowed a van! Her dad loaded the dresser, drawers, crib, mattress, and boxes of clothes. Thanks to the generosity of many good people, this young mom has many of the items she will need for the first year of her son’s life.
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