The Backgrounder: OIM sponsors the 8:00 am and 5:00 pm news on a local radio station, CHRI 99.1 fm. For one of our 60 second spots, I interviewed a young lady (we’ll call her Rachel) from our Passion for Youth art program. In this interview, she commented on how much she enjoyed participating in the program, so much so that she says that she dosen’t even think of drugs while she is involved in the program. This is quite remarkable, really!
The Story: So Rachel came to our office to get some stuff and stays a moment for a visit. She told me this story:
Part 1: She was panhandling on the street when a kind lady offered to buy her some supper. She agreed and the two of them had an enjoyable time together. She felt special because a.) she was noticed, b.) the time over a meal brought a sense of dignity, and c.) somebody actually cared.
Part 2: Two days later, this same lady comes by and Rachel is at the same spot, panhandling. She stops and chats, one of the first questions she asked was: “Was that you that I heard on the radio? I recognize your voice. That was great!”
Rachel’s face beamed with joy as she answered in the affirmative. Imagine, someone recognized her!!
This is huge! We might get a kick of being on the radio, but for Rachel, this is so much bigger. In her part in this little story, she was recognized not just a panhandler, or even as a person who might be ‘down and out’ for the time being. She was someone who was recognized for making a larger, positive contribution to a good cause! Mabye even informing and influencing the way that radio listeners think about people caught in the web of poverty and homelessness.
She was radiant as she recounted this story.
It might be hard to imagine just how much of an impact this would be for someone who calls the streets their home. Think of it for a moment: 24/7 you are struggling to survive, just trying to make it to the next day; the past continually comes before your mind: harsh words (“You are such a loser! You’ll never amount to anything! You are worthless trash!); every imaginable form of abuse (from abusive parents and relatives, residential school system, etc); multiple foster homes; struggling to survive, and well… you fill in the gaps.
THEN someone comes up to you in the midst of your despair and darkened world and brings a burning magnesium light of hope and glory, and says, “Hey, was that you I heard on the radio? I recognized your voice. That was great!”
You never can know the full impact of such positive words and affirmation. It just might be enough to change someone’s life!