There is this one particular lady who comes each week that I have built a friendship with. She has been going through a bit of a hard time and been treated unfairly at her place of work. Every week when she comes I ask how things are going and she fills me in on her life. I was standing at the back of the room yesterday when she approached me with a bag in her hand. The bag itself was nothing special, just a white grocery bag that she probably received from our drop-in the week before but in the bag was what mattered. As we were talking she handed me the bag and said that it was a gift for me. She said “I just wanted to give you this to show you I appreciate you always listening to me over the past few weeks.” I received the gift with a smile telling her I was so flattered that she would do this for me.
It was one of those moments that made me realize that although to me listening may have not seemed like much to her it was something more than that. I was someone to talk to when she needed someone to listen. A safe place to go and share her concerns. This was a moment of understanding.
Working at a place like this can sometimes feel like our efforts are not bearing a lot of fruit. We come each day, each week and each night to do outreach, drop-in and stop-in. We talk, share and support our friends. Sometimes it feels like it isn’t making a difference at all. Then I stop and think about this. Maybe we aren’t seeing the results that we want to see but that doesn’t mean it isn’t making a difference. The difference is this: We are people who are willing to sit on the sidewalk, sit beside someone at the drop-in and listen. That’s it! Simply listen to them. Hear what they have to say, the concerns they have and what is going on in their lives. This was a moment of clarity.