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Difficult Circumstances

I have been wondering lately whether it is possible to over-thank for acts of kindness, especially in these times when there are so many communication tools available.

The question became poignant yesterday when we answered our door and invited in one of our friends who, awhile back, had a relationship with OIM through our youth and workskills programs. We knew this young woman had been through a lot and now is truly homeless – no longer at risk of becoming so.

Everything she owned she carried in a very large backpack and in cases on wheels connected to each other with assorted ropes and ties. I wondered how she could possibly have been managing the bulkiness, weight, and security of her belongings out on the streets.

The visit started out well. She was hungry and we offered her food. She was very tired – no sleep the previous night – and so we gave her a relatively quiet place to be able to put down her load and rest for a little while. She seemed to need to share something of her story. Staff listened and empathized.

Sadly, it didn’t end well. None of what was done for her was enough because, in the end, we couldn’t provide her with what she wanted most – a safe place to sleep. We tried referrals but the shelters were full; the city couldn’t help.

She did not take the news well. Should we have expected gratitude for all that we did to provide for her? If we did, we were destined for disappointment. She left our building angry, bitter, and uttering threats.

Initially, because of the disruption she caused, I wasn’t particularly grateful that she had come to our door. But then I was. Why? I became grateful for the calm and patient caring of our staff who tended to her even when she became hostile; for our donors who, by their generosity, allow us to provide food, socks, sleeping bags and an ear to those with nothing and possibly nowhere to go; for our volunteers, who sometimes meet up with Street Friends happy to see us, but not always; and for awareness of her circumstance and now the opportunity to pray for changed circumstances.

~Margo, Managing Director

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